RIGA - Foreign Minister Rihards Piks said remarks expressed last week by Russian Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov, accusing Latvia and Estonia of not respecting democracy and human rights norms, as dangerous and being on the verge of "Cold War rhetoric, pressure and threats."
"This is a very dangerous sign that the Russian defense minister affords such rhetoric to aggravate the situation," said Piks, who spoke to reporters on July 16, remarking that "pressure and threats have never lead to anything good throughout history."
Piks explained the heavy pressure by Russia on the Baltics as an attempt to use them as "an instrument for taking part in EU affairs."
Foreign Ministry Deputy State Secretary Andris Teikmanis demanded that Russian Ambassador to Latvia Igor Studennikov provide an official explanation on Ivanov's remarks.
Teikmanis said the "extremist claims by the Russian defense minister are completely groundless and sharply contradict the EU-Russian and NATO-Russian cooperation partnership spirit. Moreover, they are not enhancing the development of good neighborly relations."
Considering that this was not the first instance that the Russian defense minister has shown an international audience Russia's aggressive attitude toward neighboring states, the Foreign Ministry is calling on officials representing the Russian party to solve issues in a civilized and democratic manner.
Ivanov said in a speech at the International Institute for Strategic Studies in London that Russia saw the existence of countries that do not observe universally recognized democratic norms and human rights as a threat in Europe.
"It is therefore why I, as minister of defense, am forced to speak about the situation in Latvia, Estonia and some other countries in the alliance."
The defense minister said the ball was now in the court of Russia's European partners, who, in Ivanov's opinion, should teach the new member countries the principles of elementary democracy and military political openness in order to prove to Russia their loyalty to the principles of stability and cooperation in European security.
"We are not satisfied that at present everything is limited to just promises and assurances," Ivanov said.