RUSSIA LIMITED ITS OPPORTUNITIES.-By Forgoing Gains It Could Have Extracted From Agreeing to Sign Border Treaty With Latvia

Author: Vladimir Solovyov

RUSSIA LIMITED ITS OPPORTUNITIES.-By Forgoing Gains It Could Have Extracted From Agreeing to Sign Border Treaty With Latvia. (By Vladimir Solovyov. Kommersant, March 28, 2007, p. 9. Condensed text:) The prime ministers of Russia and Latvia, Mikhail Fradkov and Aigars Kalvitis, signed a border treaty yesterday. ...

"We hope that ratification of the treaty in the Saeima will proceed without any surprises or any so-called political riders to the agreement," Mikhail Fradkov said, addressing Mr. Kalvitis. The latter promised to do everything in his power to ensure that the matter is settled by the end of May, saying that would be the shortest possible time in which the document could be steered through parliament. Messrs. Fradkov and Kalvitis made every effort to underscore the importance of the newly signed document. The Russian prime minister said that he now rules out "even hypothetical territorial claims" by Latvia against Russia, and that delimiting the border in international law "will make it possible to close one of the problem areas in our relations." Aigars Kalvitis seconded his counterpart.

The Russian-Latvian treaty, which the two sides initialed 10 years ago, was supposed to have been signed back in May of 2005. A snag arose when the Latvian Saeima adopted a so-called "explanatory declaration" to accompany the document. It contained a reference to the 1920 Peace Treaty between Russia and Latvia, under which Abrene and six surrounding townships that are now part of Pytalovo District in Pskov Province passed to Latvia. Moscow saw that as a territorial claim and refused to sign the border treaty until the declaration was withdrawn [see Current Digest, Vol. 57, No. 18-19, pp. 1-4]. "They'll get a dead donkey's ears before they get Pytalovo District," Russian President Vladimir Putin said at the time.

No progress was made on the border issue with Russia for two years. It was only last month that Latvian President Vaira Vike-Freiberga ...

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