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Veshyakov says 2012 not a successful year in Latvia-Russia relations

Alexander Veshnyakov. Photo: Edijs Palens/LETA.
 RIGA, Nov 26 - 2012 cannot be considered a very successful year in the Latvia-Russia relations due to several Latvian politicians' controversial statements that the "language referendum" in Latvia had been plotted by Russia or that Russia has some secret plans for the Baltic countries, Russian Ambassador to Latvia Alexander Veshnyakov says in an interview with newspaper "Chas".
According to Veshnyakov, these statements were followed by "Russophobic sentiment" in the mass media swelling to such amounts as he had never seen during his term in office in Latvia.
The ambassador hopes that such disagreements will be solved sooner or later, but at the moment, they are preventing successful development of the relations between Latvia and Russia.
The main reason is different interpretations of history, notes Veshnyakov, also praising the work being done by the historian commissions of both countries.
Commenting President Andris Berzins' attempts to reconcile society, Veshnyakov says that the improving the situation will take time and require political wisdom.
In the interview, Veshnyakov is also skeptical about the attempts to renew the work of Latvia's commission set up to calculate Latvia's losses suffered during the Soviet occupation. "Russia will not accept any bills for the so-called occupation. This is an irritating factor that greatly affects our relations," emphasizes the ambassador, adding that the problem of non-citizens in Latvia is also due to this theory. The referendum on making Russian an official language in Latvia would have never taken place, and there would have been no signature drives for a referendum on automatic Latvian citizenship for all non-citizens if Latvia had taken into account international recommendations, believes Veshnyakov.
"These issues are Latvia's internal problem," says Veshnyakov. "Any society where ethnic disputes are based on the law is unstable, and it hinders the development of the state," believes the ambassador.
Veshnyakov says he suspects that "a third country" may be involved, which wants Latvia not to have sound relations with Russia.
Veshnyakov believes that introducing visa-free travel between Latvia and Russia would also improve the countries' relations greatly.
Overall, Veshnyakov believes that Latvian-Russian relations could improve in couple years or couple decades, "diplomats have enough work to do".
Veshnyakov celebrated his 60th birthday on November 24.
leta.lv

26-11-2012
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