Latvia prepares for presidential visit to Russia

  • 2008-10-23
  • TBT Staff in cooperation with BNS

The Russian foreign minister said that the country was prepared to discuss sensitive historical issues (Photo courtesy of Agencia Brasil)

RIGA 's RussianForeign Minister Sergei Lavrov has said that an "appropriately politicallyinformative background" is needed for Latvian President Valdis Zatlers'upcoming trip to Moscow.

"It [the visit] has to be well prepared," Lavrovtold journalists on Thursday.

The Russian minister did not give a direct answer to aquestion when Zatlers could make the trip to Moscow,but said he discussed the visit with Latvian Foreign Minister Maris Riekstins.

Riekstins reiterated though that a visit of this level mustbe not only symbolic but also substantial, namely, is must result in newbilateral agreements. Currently, 17 cooperation agreements between Latviaand Russia arein various stages of preparation.

The Russian foreign minister also said that the country wasprepared to discuss controversial issues surrounding the interpretation ofhistory with Latvia.

Russians and Latvians have long disagreed over whether the Soviet Union acted as a "liberator" from the Nazi regime or as an"occupier" of the country when it took control following World War II.

The Russian minister said that one of the subjects discussedat the talks with Latvian Foreign Minister Maris Riekstins was cooperationbetween Latvian and Russian historians. Lavrov asserted that Russiawould not bar Latvian historians from accessing archive materials that might beof interest.

Lavrov said that Russiawould be ready to set up a joint commission of historians at the academiclevel. "We are ready to speak about our common history," said theRussian official.