RIGA - In an interview with BNS, European Parliament Member Andrejs Mamikins (Harmony) said that ''you may not love Russia, but we must keep trading with it''.
The politician also urged Latvia to forget the Russian occupation of Crimea, at least for a while, with the aim of improving the economic situation of Latvia and the Baltic region. ''Do you support democracy in Venezuela, or is it more important for your children to be fed?'', the MEP said.
According to Mamikins, the lifting of sanctions is in Latvia's interests. ''We might not love Russia, but we must continue trading with it. Russian residents have friends and family in Latvia and vice versa. We have been historically interconnected economically, and must continue to utilize these opportunities.''
''Before the introduction of sanctions, foreign trade between the EU and Russia reached EUR 1 billion per day. This is the price the EU is paying for this sanctions war. It is clear that the counter sanctions imposed by Putin and the Russian side is damaging our economy, as well as damaging the overall atmosphere within the EU. It must be understood that we cannot live in a constant state of Cold War with one of the EU's largest neighbors,'' the politician added.
Mamikins is confident that diplomacy must be used with Russia. ''Sometime one may think that diplomacy is only white tablecloths, champagne and receptions, but it is actually a very cynical game between countries and their interests. I am confident that our army of diplomats are capable of defending our economic interests. A political signal is necessary, which can only come from the minister. Unfortunately, the current foreign minister is not interested in giving the signal for the activation of relations with Russia. We can achieve much in a bilateral format, despite the EU's stance or the atmosphere within the European Parliament,'' he said.
''We can cooperate in areas where we do not have any problems. Crimea is a problem for us, but maybe we can put this to the side for a moment and not speak about it, but instead speak about what unites us. Crimea is basically a de facto part of Russia already,'' he claimed.