Kalvitis: president made the right decision

  • 2005-01-19
  • By The Baltic Times
RIGA 's Prime Minister Aigars Kalvitis said that President Vaira Vike-Freiberga had no other option but to accept the invitation by her counterpart Vladimir Putin to take part in the 60 anniversary celebrations of World War II in Moscow.

But even the president's visit is unlikely to improve relations between the two countries, the prime minister told Latvian Radio on Friday. "Europe will find it difficult to understand Latvia if it failed to join celebration of victory over the fascists. If we stayed away, this would allow for various interpretations of our absence," said Kalvitis.

In the prime minister's opinion, Russia, and other countries as well, would have declared that Latvia was a "Nazi country" if the president would have refused to go to the May 9 event.

At the same time he reiterated the government's position that Latvia wouldn't sign a declaration on bilateral relations as proposed by Russia during the Victory Day celebration.

"We need the border treaty and must get it signed," he said. "This would be the first step. This would be a huge step forward, and with time we could expect also ratification of the treaty by the Russian State Duma."

Vike-Freiberga has also said that she wold not sign a border agreement with Russia during the visit.

Meanwhile, Kalvitis said that Latvia could ratify the convention on protection of ethnic minorities in the first half of this year, another sticking point in relations with Russia. He said that the government coalition was stable enough and could withstand debate on the sensitive issue.

The president has said she would support ratification of the document.

"Politicians overestimate the danger of the ratification of this convention. Lithuania and Estonia have already done it [ratified the convention], and no problems have arisen," he said. "For 10 years Latvia has not been able to ratify the convention and in many international forums we hear: 'Well, why can't you ratify the document, once you have already signed it.' We should ratify the convention, but with reservations," the prime minister said.