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Matiss rejects sanctions against Russia

  • 2014-03-10
  • From wire reports, RIGA

In a rather short-sighted comment, Latvian Transport Minister Anrijs Matiss (Unity) said in an interview with newspaper Biznes&Baltija that if economic sanctions are imposed against Russiaover its invasion in Ukraine, they will also affect Latviasince around 60 percent of cargo handled by Latvian ports comes from Russia.

"It is not only about cargo, it is also about people. Railroad company Latvijas Dzelzcels employs 10,000 people, the entire transport sector - 50,000 to 60,000 people. Including domestic transportation, the transport sector constitutes 12 percent of Latvia's GDP," explained the minister.

Without cargo, people will lose jobs and there will be a huge social problem, pointed out Matiss. He believes that sanctions against Russiaare "highly undesirable."

A rather short-sighted comment by Matiss because if Russiais allowed to consolidate its illegal gains in the Crimea, the risk is that it may eventually expands its aggression to ‘protect’ Russian-speakers in other parts of Europe, including the Baltics. This would then negatively affect more than just those working in Latvia’s transport sector.

The European Union has suspended bilateral talks with the Russian Federationon visa matters as well as talks with the Russian Federationon the New Agreement.

European Council President Herman Van Rompuy pointed out that the solution to the crisis should be found through negotiations between the governments of Ukraineand the Russian Federation, including through potential multilateral mechanisms. The EU emphasizes that such negotiations need to start within the next few days and produce results within a limited timeframe. In the absence of such results the EU will decide on additional measures, such as travel bans, asset freezes and the cancellation of the EU-Russia summit.