Aglona is one of the most underrated travel destinations in Europe.

The lack of vision of the Latvian politicians. Aglona, hypocrisy & Mr. Adamovics

Latvian politicians say that Latvia is a success story. Europe seems to have a faith in that. But let me tell you about this “success” story from another point of view. The real one.

It is not a big secret that in post-soviet countries things often are getting done different than in other European countries. Latvia is not an exception — no matter level of weal here is higher than in most African and Asian countries and not totally the lowest in whole Europe, anyway one thing is clear — situation in upper end is becoming more and more awful. This time it is the story about one wonderful place in Latvia called Aglona and ignorance towards it from authorities that should have to take care of it… according to law.

Aglona is a very historical place. First this word gets its meaning already before our era — so old is this place nowadays. Little bit of a sanctity about it, we can read also from those times but at the current moment Aglona for most of the Latvian people gets connected with one word — blessing. And not needed even to add the word „basilica”, where actually is located the most sacred place in whole Latvia. Simply because Aglona automatically means its basilica and everything around it, because apart of it Aglona has nothing so impressive than its religious buildings, the famous Our Lady of Aglona’s Miracle icon, cult spring (which water actually is proven to be very healthy and helping get rid of different kind of diseases) and miraculous environment. I am sure that every person, who visits Aglona, especially first time, gets overwhelmed with positive emotions after leaving this place. But let’s get back to the main problems why I ever wrote this story. We all know about Aglona’s greatness but surely not many know how irresponsible and kinda ignoring attitude it gets from those, who must develop this place and bring more popularity to it not only at the local level.

Aldis Adamovics — politician without responsibility?

One of the main persons who is responsible about many things connected and not connected with Aglona is Aldis Adamovics, one of the many Latvian politicians, and current member of the Latvian parliament, representing a party called „Vienotība”. Born in 1970 in Latvian town Preili, Adamovics has spent almost whole his life in this town. He has the university grade in Geography and Aldis has worked as a teacher in the local high school. Slowly, step by step, from the usual teacher, later director at a school he became an important figure in Latgalian town Preili and not only there. At the moment, he works also for the region of Latgale in the group of politicians that is responsible for planning development of this region. But before we go through his career, must admit that he has been elected to Preili town council since 2006 as a chairman and left this job just several months before the 2015. It was because he was elected into the new Latvian parliament and now he has to work in Riga for most of his time.

While looking back at that time (2006–2015), actually it is hard to say clearly, what he has done to improve Preili town as being on the top of its council. Nearly questioned about this topic he found it very hard to answer exactly and without longer thinking. He finally answered that there has been done infrastructure jobs in Preili, including improvement of roads, streets, and park, which seems to be the only more or less well-known place of this town. However, when I asked this question to my friend and few others who live there for a long time, I saw quite a surprise in their faces. ”Roads, streets? Are you kidding me? There has been nothing impressive done in this town for more than 15 years! If some streets or buildings were reconstructed, that is nothing to be proud about. We’re living in Europe or Africa?” he sarcastically said. When I asked that maybe there is some other stuff that has been clearly improved, I still didn’t get an immediate answer. Finally, my mate said that one thing there is though — stadium in Preili town, where also football pitch and tribunes for spectators is, has been upgraded, so that now there feels more comfortable to train. But that’s it. “There’s no future vision or clear concept here. Nothing valuable has been built or done here. They can’t even restore the Preili castle that could easily become the visit card for our town! Almost 25 years have gone since Latvia got independent and that castle is still slowly ruining! Adamovics and all those politicians that were in power before him were making same excuses year after year. That’s a nonsense,” my friend added. In whole 8 years Aldis hasn’t done that much and it is not me just saying, such conclusion comes after questioning Preili inhabitants. Funny thing that very few even didn’t know about him. No matter Preili is a small town and it should be very important to know your head of the town. Lack of knowledge or sooner irresponsibility Adamovics and his self-government that they count to be there but globally are invisible and not known as needed?

From long ago Preili, same as whole Latgale, has not been a rich place or close to that for most of the people. Overall, after a collapse of Soviet Union Latvia got and still has a hard time economically. Those, who had more contacts and possibilities, took their chances to establish business (but often illegal as well) in 90’s, others got what was left. Now all hopes goes on the new generation but what can they do if a lot around is so poisoned like now? Globally — nothing. Most of them are heading to Riga or UK, Germany and other European countries. Inhabitants of Preili had hopes on Aldis and his predecessors that they will make life in Preili better. Stadium is a good thing but isn’t it too little in such a long time of being one of the main persons in town? Where are new workplaces, where is the famous road quality (while driving through Preili town it is not big difference than at any other town, which means road quality is pretty low) and where are new entertainment objects for people so that it wouldn’t be so boring to visit this town? How about health care, which, according to society living there, is terrible? Trust me; those are not my imaginations but just summary of Preili people opinions about different questions. And neither I nor they ask to make all happen fast and in most areas. All goes just about responsibility and hard work. If a council decided to improve roads, then, please, do it but with results. If medicine, then medicine. But all goes quite carelessly and it is very disappointing. Sad that I didn’t see that happiness in the faces of Preili inhabitants.

Aglona — the unused jewel of Latvia

Latvia is one of the smallest countries in Europe and not only by the size of the area. Population here is under 2 millions of people, which can be considered as very little. Therefore more than important is to make popular such place like Aglona. Yearly, Aglona is visited by approx. 300 000 of tourists. In comparison, Vatican collects such amount in barely 1 month (10 000 people a day) but in the whole year 18 millions of people. You will say such places can’t be compared? Well, then Czestochowa in Poland, which is a similar place like Aglona is visited by 5 to 7 millions of foreign visitors each year. And Poland is not that far from Latvia. Can you feel the difference — 300 000 against 5 000 000? In Aglona’s case, big part of these tourists visit this place just in two days in August, when there happen ministration and religious events. Otherwise, if you visit Aglona in any other day, you can’t feel it would be the place that people know about. And it is another stone in the garden of all authorities, starting from the council of Aglona territory and ending with Latgalian born politicians, like Aldis Adamovics.

How comes that person, who has university education of geography, which is very close topic for such thing like tourism and at same time this person is responsible for whole Latgalian area, including Preili town neighbour Aglona, pretends that everything is fine and doesn’t even think about how to increase the popularity of Aglona and bring more tourists to this place? Or maybe he doesn’t want? In any case, it is avoidance from any kind of responsibility and going out of all laws.

For example, when you join some place in private sector where to start your work, you get your working contract where are written your rights, your rules, and your duties. Followed by numbers. If you don’t follow to some of these points and do it regularly, sooner or later you will be fired from this job. Such it mostly happens in normal organizations to avoid useless usage of available resources. But how about politicians in Latvia? Do they follow these rules? According to many historical inquiries, biggest part of Latvian inhabitants, doesn’t think that politicians follow these rules and are worth the wage they get paid. It explains everything. It is not good to look in other pockets but how normal is situation when deputies get wages in a range from 1500 to even 3000 euros? While the average wage in the country fluctuates around 500 euro. You get 3 times higher wage than usual worker but at the same time people are not satisfied with your work? Something is totally wrong here. Like Aldis admitted himself — he works mostly 3–4 days and according to his answers on the interview, job doesn’t seem to be as hard as many imagine. On holidays he gets a plenty of free time. At the same time, there are so many families where both of parents have to work even on holidays just to earn some money to buy a food to their children. Where is the justice?

But let’s get back to Aglona’s question. Another reason why this place needs to be popularized more is because of itself and Latgale in common. Many politicians from party „Vienotība”, in which Aldis is not an exception, put as a main priority to Latvian language and all problems connected with that. Also, we have the never-ending “Russians are coming!” trend here. It’s easy to blame someone from outside in your own problems. You can hear a lot of populism here. But never, I repeat — never — I haven’t heard anything about some development that would affect people clearly positive. Language is a good thing, but you won’t be fed up just with it. What gives that Latvia will consist 100% from Latvians if there won’t be enough workplaces with appropriate wage and no income will come from abroad? Sense — none. You have to live in reality, not in illusions. Aglona could really bring something positive into lives of the people. By making this place more popular and getting at least twice more number of foreign tourists visiting it yearly, it would be clear positive effect not only for itself but also for neighbour town Preili and whole Latgalian region. And Aldis would be the first one who would get applauses for that because initiative brings development and in this case — it is a good development. Naive is to hope that without any clear contribution Aglona with its buildings will hold many, many years. Everything needs an update, that is why it is very strange, and obscure — why no one has ever even mentioned some plan how to attract more foreign people to this place and turn it into one of the Europe’s top travel destinations.

Hypocrisy and deception

Where is the beginning and where comes the ending for law? In politician case — apparently nowhere and that is the root of all problems connected with Aglona, tourism, development, and weal. Lack of responsibility, senseless promises, and uncontrolled cash flow are the three main reasons why politicians remain in the role of fakers in the eyes of the society. And Aldis Adamovics isn’t any exception, in this case. No matter he appears almost perfect in front of the TV cameras and claims he has done several important things for his region, reality is much more different. Probably, he is a good person but surely not a good politician. It is not enough to be social, popular and with an open heart for people to become a deputy as Aldis answered on a question what qualities does a person need to become a politician. And it is the biggest mistake. A person cannot become a deputy just because he/she is popular or social. You gotta be smart, sharp-minded and very hard working. Who else if not you because you are a servant of the nation! There must be something more — knowledge, passion and clear vision for the future in doing a good things. But mostly there are two kind of politicians — such, who are too smart and dishonest for politics and use their status, situation or some kind of advantage in selfish goals. And such, who doesn’t know much but just keep being there because of a tick. Both of these examples are bad and if such politicians are making majority — there are not a smallest chance for any kind of development.

Aglona, no matter what will stay one of the most sacred places in the world for the Christians. I hope that it is just a question of time when things will go different and this place will get much more attention also from a foreign side. But if not — then you know who should take all responsibility about this inactivity. Or actually not really, since the law works for people but it’s non-existing for the chosen ones…

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