President, PM struggle to find solution to border treaty

  • 2005-05-25
  • By, TBT staff
RIGA-Latvian President Vaira Vike-Freiberga said that she expects Prime Minister Aigars Kalvitis to come up with a clear solution in "finding a way out of the dead end" in which Latvia has ended up over the border treaty issue with Russia.

The president told the press on May 24 that ruling coalition parties had not settled on any possible solutions.

"I'm going to meet with Kalvitis tomorrow and demand a solution," she said, adding that when the current government was being formed, the main precondition was that it could take action.

The prime minister, however, said he thinks that too much fuss had been created over the border treaty. Therefore, he added, society needs to be calmed and differences with the neighboring country should be settled in a pragmatic manner.

Speaking on the LNT television morning show "900 Sekundes" (900 Seconds), Kalvitis said that, "we have created too much fuss. The matter needs to be solved calmly, without stress, tension and division of politicians into good ones and bad ones."

Kalvitis said it was no tragedy that the border agreement was not signed this May, as the document had remained unsigned for the last seven years.

The PM added that the only quick solution was to withdraw the explanatory declaration.

"There is only one quick solution -- to withdraw the declaration which means violating the Constitution. Nobody is going to make the government undertake such responsibility," said Kalvitis.

The government, however, disagrees. Even Vike-Freiberga said she did not see a solution to the problem.

"I can't make any resume... During the talks [with parties represented in Parliament], I heard different opinions about 'the historical vote' [on the unilateral declaration to the border treaty], and in the end everybody was competing over who's more Catholic than the Pope," said the Latvian president.

She added that the border treaty could be signed first, and then examined for compliance with the Latvian Constitution.

As for the possibility of drafting a bill that would enable the Constitutional Court to assess the border treaty before signing it, the Latvian president said she supported "any option that would lead us out of the dead end."

As politicians have said the problems were legal, the solution must be legal too, she added.

Meanwhile, Kalvitis said that serious consultations with the Russian party should be started, and that Latvia also needed to explain its situation to Western partners.

The Latvian-Russian border treaty, which had remained unsigned for years, was finally planned for May 10 this year in Moscow. But two weeks before the scheduled date, the Latvian government adopted a unilateral declaration, explaining that the border treaty was not linked with the elimination of consequences from the illegal Soviet occupation in the 1940s.

The government explained that the declaration was needed as a legal solution to the border treaty, being in contradiction with Latvia's Constitution, which states that the country's territory cannot be changed without support by referendum.

As a result of the border treaty, the territory of the Abrene (now Pytalovo) region would remain a part of Russia. The area was in Latvia's territory when the constitution was first adopted in the 1920s, but taken over by Russia after World War II.

Russia perceived Latvia's declaration as a territorial claim and said it wouldn't sign the border treaty unless Latvia withdrew the declaration.