President Valdis Zatlers wants open discussion on history.
RIGA - President Valdis Zatlers believes that his participation in the May 9 celebrations in Moscow will contribute to social harmony and unity in Latvia, as well as in the furthering of international relations, reports news agency LETA. Zatlers has said that without leaving behind the awareness of Latvian and Baltic history and the Soviet occupation which followed the Second World War, with its painful consequences for the Latvian nation, in his opinion it is important to acknowledge that Latvia is a member of the European Union and NATO, and as such good relations with neighboring Russia are in its interests.
He also believes that politicians and representatives of economic and academic circles should call Latvia’s society to unity, reconciliation, forgiveness, and relinquishing a policy of revanchism in matters of history, bringing closer together currently differing opinions on important and complicated historical questions. In order to overcome social divides in Latvia, academic research, interpretation and discussion of 20th century history should be promoted, the president asserts. “This should be done academically, without using administrative or political resources which would impose on society one definite conception of history,” stressed Zatlers.
Zatlers accepted Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin’s invitation to attend the May 9 celebrations in Moscow this year at a meeting between the two on a working visit to Finland. The president’s Foreign Affairs Advisor Andris Pelss reported that at present, he was not able to say whether any bilateral meetings would take place during Zatlers’ visit to Moscow. Pelss added that the meeting with Putin took place in a “very cordial atmosphere.”
Offering a different response on the same note, Lithuanian President Dalia Grybauskaite earlier emphasized that an invitation from Russia’s president to pay a bilateral visit to Russia at a time convenient for her is “much more beneficial” than visits on the occasions of anniversaries. “Such a warming of relations is beneficial for both sides,” she said. Asked why Russia invited Latvia’s president to the May 9 celebration and did not invite the Lithuanian leader, Grybauskaite said that she believed that Russia behaved properly by calling on cooperation, “and by not putting us in such a situation where it would be uncomfortable for Lithuania to say no.”
The president said that she thinks May is too early for a meeting, as there are a lot of issues that should be prepared, in the sense of bilateral relations, which are much more important than visits to celebrations of anniversaries.