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Minister: Russian financial claims absurd

  • 2004-09-29
  • By The Baltic Times
VILNIUS - Suggestions by Russia's Audit Chamber that the Baltics owe money for property left behind are an absurd attempt to deny annexation of the three counties, Foreign Minister Antanas Valionis said.

Chamber officials said on Thursday that the issue of compensation for Russian military property in the Baltics needed to be addressed. Based on the data from the Russian Central Bank and Vneshekonombank, the Russian Chamber of Audit said the Baltic share of the former Soviet Union's debt amounts to $3.06 billion.

The conclusions are to be presented to the Federal Assembly, the government and President Vladimir Putin's administration.

"These Russian actions are aimed at denying the annexation," Valionis told the Baltic News Service on Friday, noting that by signing the 1991 Lithuanian-Russian treaty Russia acknowledged the 1940 annexation and committed itself to eliminating its reasons.

"It is an unheard outrage for the aggressor to demand compensations. Attempts to make such claims are absurd and will definitely not contribute to the development normal partnership," the foreign minister stressed.

"All countries around the world acknowledge that the Balts do not have any share of the Soviet Union's foreign debt, as the occupied countries cannot be responsible for the occupant's debts," said Europarliament member Vytautas Landsbergis.

Landsbergis interpreted the audit chamber conclusions as a sign of Russia's recognition that it would not escape negotiations over the compensation of occupation damages to the Baltic states and that the eastern neighbor wanted to present a counterclaim.

In 2000, Lithuania passed a law obligating the government to negotiate with Russia over the compensation of damages caused by the 50-year Soviet occupation, estimated at 80 billion litas (23.2 billion euro).

Russia refused to open negotiations on the matter.