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Diplomat tapped as Latvia's new foreign minister as incumbent quits following flights scandal

HELSINKI — The head of Latvia’s government tapped an experienced diplomat to become the Baltic nation’s new foreign minister after the incumbent stepped down earlier this week amid a criminal probe over alleged misuse of government funds.

The ruling center-right New Unity party decided to back the nomination of Baiba Braže, 57, who is currently the ambassador for special tasks at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, after Prime Minister Evika Siliņa’s endorsement, Latvian news agency LETA reported Saturday.

.Latvian Television LTV said Braže’s candidacy will be officially announced on Monday and lawmakers at the Saiema, Latvia’s 100-seat Parliament, are set to vote on a motion of confidence in her on Thursday.

Among other posts, Braže has previously served as Latvia’s ambassador to Britain and to The Netherlands, and held the post of NATO’s deputy secretary general for public diplomacy in 2020-2023.

Krišjānis Kariņš, Latvia’s former top diplomat and an ex-prime minister, announced his intention to resign this month on March 28. His decision came in the wake of a criminal probe over the use of expensive private charter flights by Kariņš′ office during his time as prime minister between 2019-2023.

There are no indications that Kariņš himself faces charges as part of the probe into the scandal that erupted last year and caused public outrage among Latvians. Siliņa took up Latvia’s top government job in September when Kariņš became foreign minister of the nation of 1.9 million, a European Union and NATO member state.

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