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RIGA - News of the upcoming visit of President Valdis Zatlers to Russia is a positive thing, and it is good that the highest officials from both countries will meet to discuss the development of Latvian-Russian, NATO-Russian and EU-Russian relations, former Latvian Foreign Minister Aivis Ronis believes, reports news agency LETA. “This visit will be a great contribution towards increasing mutual trust between Latvia and Russia,” stressed Ronis.
During Zatlers’ visit, sensitive historical topics could be touched upon, the head of the Presidential Chancery, Edgars Rinkevics, reported to the press on Dec. 3. Asked whether the Soviet occupation of Latvia or issues related to Latvia’s non-citizens will be discussed during Zatlers’ visit, Rinkevics emphasized that the officials will discuss issues of mutual importance, and that Zatlers is ready to discuss any topic. “Sensitive issues also will be touched on, however, they will not be primary discussion topics,” Rinkevics said.
He believes that work on sensitive historical issues of the 20th Century should be analyzed and discussed by historians, and expressed hope that an agreement will be made on the formation of a special committee of historians to study these sensitive historical issues.
“If Russia wants to express its concerns on the Latvian non-citizen issues, they will be heard and Zatlers will express Latvia’s stance on this issue,” said Rinkevics. He added that Latvia approved of the recent condemnation by Russian President Dmitry Medvedev in regard to the crimes committed by the Stalin regime.
President Zatlers will visit Moscow and St. Petersburg just before Christmas, from Dec. 19 to 21.More detailed information on the visit’s agenda will be released sometime after Dec. 13.
Speaking about the Latvian delegation that will be accompanying Zatlers on the visit, Rinkevics said that this is still being decided on, however, several persons are already known - Economy Minister Artis Kampars (Unity), Interior Minister Linda Murniece (Unity), Transport Minister Uldis Augulis (Union of Greens and Farmers), Riga Mayor Nils Usakovs (Harmony Center), Foreign Ministry State Secretary and former Latvian Ambassador to Russia Andris Teikmanis and Latvian Orthodox Church Metropolitan Alexander.
Foreign Minister Girts Valdis Kristovskis (Unity) will not be part of the delegation.
According to Rinkevics, there are three priorities to Zatlers’ visit - political dialogue with the Russian government on numerous issues, expanding economic contacts, as well as signing bilateral agreements.
The Foreign Ministry has announced that several bilateral agreements will be signed during the visit, including an agreement to fight organized crime, an agreement on easing border crossing procedures for persons living in border areas, an agreement on cooperation in emergency situations, an agreement on cooperation in environmental protection, as well as an agreement on cooperation in the tourism sector.