Vike-Freiberga: border agreement requires political decision

  • 2005-04-13
  • By The Baltic Times
RIGA 's President Vaira Vike-Freiberga said Thursday that there was no need to hold a referendum on the much-maligned border treaty with Russia since any such agreement first and foremost required political will.

Speaking in an interview on national television, the president said, "Obviously, in a situation where there are several alternative interpretations, a political decision should be taken, since lawyers are unable to come to an agreement."

The treaty, which would change the Latvian-Russian border drawn back in 1920, is likely to be signed by both governments after years of a political tug-of-war.

Russia has promised to announce its willingness to sign the border treaty with Latvia by April 21.

"This is just like Finland once lost Karelia," said Vike-Freiberga. "We must decide pragmatically what will be of more advantage to the state and how we should act, and we must simply take a courageous political decision, what we must do and what we should not."

Asked whether it would be in Latvia's interests to sign a border treaty without any additional documents on the consequences of Soviet occupation, the president said, "[The border treaty] is in Latvia's interests in the sense that the Latvian state has accepted it during the past seven years and has been asserting to the international community that it is ready to sign such a border treaty with Russia, and that Latvia has no territorial claims against any country, that it has no territorial disputes with any country, and based on these assertions Latvia was admitted to the European Union and NATO."

If Latvia changed its position, "it would mean that Latvia had lied," the president said.

Previously Russia suggested that the border treaty could be signed May 10 in Moscow, but Latvia does not want the signing to be related to President Vike-Freiberga's visit to Moscow on May 9 for celebration of the 60th anniversary of the Soviet victory in World War II.

Meanwhile, Vike-Freiberga said that this week's letter by several United States Congressmen demanding that Russia recognize the fact of occupation of the three Baltic states would help remind Americans of historical events that took place half a century ago.

"I find the process itself to be even more interesting than the result," the president said of the U.S. Congressmen's proposed resolution. "It means that Congress is going to debate the issue, and the American nation will be reminded about what happened then [at the end of World War II], and what it meant. To me, such discussion seems very valuable, regardless of the resolution passed at the end of it," the president said.

Nine U.S. congressmen have initiated a draft resolution demanding Russia to officially recognize the fact of illegitimate occupation of Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia between 1940 and 1991.