RIGA - Latvian Economy Minister Aigars Stokenbergs and his Russian counterpart, German Gref, signed agreements on economic and work cooperation for the Latvian-Russian intergovernmental commission on Oct. 13. Latvia's Ambassador to Russia Andris Teikmanis said the move could be considered "a continuation of the positive signals seen during this year."
Stokenbergs and Gref mentioned a recent meeting with the Latvian and Russian prime ministers, a conversation between the Latvian prime minister and the Russian president, as well as the visits of Russian Patriarch Aleksii II and Russian ex-president Boris Yeltsin to Latvia as positive developments.
"These were all good signals, which point at both countries' wish to improve relations and start cooperating. The signing of the agreements is already a concrete step. A good legal basis has been created for cooperation," Teikmanis said.
The Latvian diplomat said Russia had yet to approve a co-chairman for the intergovernmental commission, but the Russian economics minister promised to complete this task as soon as possible.
"In the past, we have experienced how this commission does not function. I believe that we will experience how this commission can function," Teikmanis said.
During the talks, both economy ministers underscored the necessity to ink several other documents, including those protecting investments and lifting double-taxation, as well as documents relating to social protection.
The Russian minister said that signing the agreements was a "positive interim result in the normalization of relations," the Russian news agency Interfax reported. Gref noted that the "cooperation potential of the two countries is large 's ranging from agriculture to high technologies."
Gref also said that Latvia played an important role in the EU, and that Moscow hoped its neighbor would cooperate with the bloc, especially on issues of energy, since Latvian representative Andris Piebalgs currently holds the post of EU energy commissioner.
Gref also mentioned the fact that 90 percent of Latvians spoke Russian as a positive factor for economic cooperation, RosBusinessConsulting reported.
The intergovernmental commission was created to deal with companies hoping to expand economic cooperation. The commission hopes to have a significant role in solving various bilateral cooperation issues.
Latvia nominated Transport Minister Krisjanis Peters as co-chairman of the intergovernmental task force.