Raimonds Vējonis is the incumbent President of Latvia who is in the office since 8 July 2015. Previously, he served as Minister of Defense (2014 – 2015) and Minister of Environmental Protection and Regional Development (2002 – 2011).
Early Life and Education
Born on 15 June 1966 in Pskov Oblast, Raimonds Vējonis was raised in Sarkani by a Latvian military father, Jānis Gunārs Vējonis, and a Russian mother, Tatjana Vējone. For early education, he went to a school in Madona and generated a passion in environmental protection. After graduating from high school, Vējonis joined the University of Latvia for an undergraduate degree in biology. He also earned a Master’s degree from the same university in 1995.
The 50-year-old politician is married to Iveta Vējone. She was a primary school teacher at Madona Secondary School No. 1. As First Lady, Iveta has made significant contributions in providing support for educational and social projects, children and handicapped people.
From January 18, 2016, Vējonis was on a sick leave until 30 March. He was hospitalized in a Latvian cardiology center to treat a reported sickness called infective endocarditis. Vējonis went through an open-heart surgery to eliminate infection by replacing a heart valve with an artificial one. Although the surgery was a success, Vējonis had to spend a month for physical therapies.
Prior to entering the Latvian President, Vējonis held different jobs at different points of life. While doing bachelor’s degree at the University of Latvia, Vējonis was a biology teacher in a local school. As soon as he graduated from collegiate education, he joined Madona Regional Environmental Board as deputy director. He worked in the environmental board until 1996 and joined Greater Riga R as its director. Having acquired enough experience, Vējonis was also a state representative at Getlline Eko.
Vējonis left the office of Greater Riga R to join the Latvian government as Minister of Environmental Protection and Regional Development. He served the country in that capacity for 9 years and ascended to Ministry of Defense on 22 January 2014. He was in the office until he assumed President’s post on 8 July 2015.
Under the presidency of Vējonis, the Latvian economy is on a stable growth. The unemployment rate is at 9.5% and the price levels are rising by 2.9% every year. Moreover, the Government Debt to GDP ratio has dropped significantly to 36.4%. And, the current government is facing balance of payments deficit of €240 million.
According to the Development Cooperation Policy Plan 2016, Vējonis’ presidency is working towards implementing EU development cooperation projects, strengthening Latvian foreign policies, increasing Latvian visibility over other nations and promote sustainable development. More importantly, these plans have increased combined and cooperative presence of Ukrainian and Latvian government in northeastern Europe.
Donald Trump and Raimonds Vējonis
Like other Baltic leaders, Vējonis also congratulated US President Donald Trump for his victory on November 8 election. In a press release, he said, “We will keep working together, ensuring collective defense, and fighting terrorism as well as other modern security challenges.” The world is yet to see how the two NATO leaders take their relations in the future.