Vike-Freiberga decides to go to Moscow

  • 2005-01-12
  • By The Baltic Times
RIGA 's President Vaira Vike-Freiberga has decided to accept the invitation to go to Moscow on May 9 for marking the 60-year anniversary of the victory over Nazi Germany.

"I think is it important for the Latvian president to be present at the May 9 events on Moscow. The place of the Latvian president is where other European leaders will be," said Vike-Freiberga. She said the Latvia must not permit repetition of the situation in Yalta, Tehran and Potsdam when the fate of Baltic nations was decided without their participation.

Vike-Freiberga was the first Baltic president to decide on the invitation, and the announcement was widely discussed both at home and abroad. Politicians and observers at home were generally supportive, stressing the difficulty of the president's decision.

Lithuania's Vytautas Landsbergis, however, lashed out at the president and described Latvia as "the weak link" in the Baltics.

"On the road to liberation from Soviet occupation in 1988-1991, Latvia often was the weakest link of the Baltics. This is again manifested by [Vike-Freiberga's] strange and separate action, accepting the invitation to attend a top-level parade on the occasion of the Soviet victory," Landsbergis said in a statement issued on Wednesday.

Vike-Freiberga stressed she was going to Moscow as part of Europe and to be among European leaders and not necessarily to commemorate the end of WWII, which for the Baltics did not end on May 9, 1945, she said. To drive this point home, she said that she would send a declaration explaining that for Latvia the end of the World War Two meant not only victory over Nazi Germany but also the continuation of occupation to all EU member states.

In a statement released after the Jan. 12 news conference, the Latvian President called on Russia to denounce the Molotov-Ribbentrop pact. "Disintegration of the Soviet Union gave a chance to Baltic states, Ukraine, Georgia and other countries not only to restore their statehood, free themselves of the totalitarian heritage and build new, modern and democratic societies and states but also to join efforts towards strengthening of new Europe and its system of value," read the statement.

Russian Ambassador to Latvia Victor Kalyuzhny praised Vike-Freiberga's decision, saying he always knew she was "a wise woman." He said the Latvian and Russian presidents could discuss the timing for signing the border treaty between the two countries during the Victory Day celebrations.