Viewing cable 07RIGA51

07RIGA512007-01-18 12:46:00 2011-08-30 01:44:00 CONFIDENTIAL//NOFORN Embassy Riga

DE RUEHRA #0051/01 0181246
P 181246Z JAN 07
C O N F I D E N T I A L RIGA 000051 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 01/18/2017 
Classified By: Ambassador Catherine Todd Bailey. Reason: 1.4 (b & d) 
¶1. (C/NF) Summary: Latvia has nominated Andrejs Pildegovics, 
currently President Vike-Freiberga's Chief of Staff, as its 
next Ambassador to Washington and Mexico City.  We have had a 
long and productive relationship with Pildegovics and have 
always found him accessible.  While his academic and career 
background make him probably the Latvian government's 
greatest China expert, his nearly seven years of working for 
the President, six as foreign policy advisor and chief of 
staff since July, have given him a broad scope of experience. 
 He is personally well connected to many of the key players 
in Latvian foreign policy.  End summary. 
¶2. (U) Andrejs Pildegovics was born in August 11, 1971 in 
Vladivostok, where his Latvian native father, Peteris 
Pildegovics, taught languages at a university.  His mother, 
Galina Panina, is ethnic Russian.  Pildegovics holds a degree 
in Chinese language, culture and geography from the 
University of St. Petersburg (formerly Leningrad State 
University), which he entered in 1989.  In 1991, as part of 
his studies, he traveled to Tibet, and remained in China for 
a year of language training.  He began his career at the 
Latvian Ministry of Foreign Affairs in 1994, and has held 
various posts such as assistant to the State Secretary, press 
spokesman, and head of the Asia and Africa Department.  In 
2000, Pildegovics began working as President 
Vike-Freiberga,s foreign policy advisor.  In the summer of 
2006, he replaced Martins Bondars as the president,s chief 
of staff.  He is fluent in Latvian, Russian, English and 
Chinese.  His ethnic Russian wife, Jelena, is a teacher of 
Eastern languages and also speaks fluent Chinese.  They have 
three children. 
¶3. (C/NF) When PM Aigars Kalvitis told President 
Vike-Freiberga at the NATO summit that he would recall 
current Ambassador to Washington Maris Riekstins to be his 
Chief of Staff, Vike-Freiberga responded that she wanted to 
see Pildegovics go as the replacement.  While Kalvitis and FM 
Pabriks toyed with other names, in the end they decided to 
support Pildegovics and in just over three weeks he had been 
approved by the foreign affairs committee of Parliament, in 
Latvia a prerequisite to requesting agrement. 
¶4. (C/NF) We have had extensive contact with Pildegovics in 
his work for the President.  We have found him to be a 
reliable interlocutor.  He is generally a calm and quiet 
person, rarely fazed, even in high pressure situation.  In 
meetings, he often wants to hear from others first, even if 
he has called the meeting.  He rarely will show his hand 
right away, preferring to take issues under consideration 
before reaching a final decision.  In this he is nearly the 
complete opposite of his predecessor, Martins Bondars.  Where 
Bondars would reach decisions instantly and could seemingly 
juggle two conversations and three phone calls at the same 
time, Pildegovics approaches things in a more deliberate 
manner.  He brings his impressive intellect to bear on every 
issue and when he announces a decision, it is clear he has 
given it a lot of thought.  At the same time, contacts in the 
Latvian government sometimes express frustration that at the 
end of a session with Pildegovics they have no clearer idea 
of where he or the President stand on the issue, or find they 
have to wait for instruction when they had hoped for a quick 
¶5. (C/NF) Perhaps it is a result of his China expertise and 
experience, but Pildegovics' deliberate style and lack of 
snap decisions reflect a focus on the longer view.  For 
example, when briefing Emboff about the visit of former 
Russian President Yeltsin to Latvia in August, Pildegovics 
spent most of the time musing about how this could pay 
benefits down the road when most other interlocutors were 
focused on the significance of the moment.  In other 
conversations on policy issues, he has taken a similar long 
term view about where a policy will lead in five - ten years. 
¶6. (C/NF) Pildegovics is deeply loyal to the President and 
always concerned to protect her equities in a policy 
discussion.  He seems to genuinely feel that it would be 
wrong of him to leave for Washington before her term in 
office is up in early July and Latvia will take a nearly six 
month gap in Washington as a result.  Vike-Freiberga has, 
through force of personality and intellect, built a role for 
herself in foreign affairs far broader than that envisioned 
by the Constitution.  In doing so, she has largely ignored 
the foreign ministry, especially under minister Pabriks, whom 
she personally dislikes.  Pildegovics has taken the same 
attitude and one senior Latvian official said that 
Pildegovics is unlikely to take much direction from Pabriks 
or MFA State Secretary Penke.  Instead, he will rely on 
discussions with Bondars, former Ambassador to Washington and 
NATO Aivis Ronis, and his predecessor in Washington, Maris 
Riekstins (who has returned to become PM Kalvitis' Chief of 
Staff), in developing his approaches in Washington.  In the 
end, this will not be much different from the situation under 
Riekstins, who relied on the same group for his counsel. 
Pildegovics continues to play hockey on a weekly basis on a 
team with Bondars and regularly consults by phone and in 
person with Ronis and Riekstins.