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Latvia's Prime Minister: Russian-Latvian Relations Set Back by Lack of Political Will in Russia - 3 September, 2002

Last night, taking part in the Russian Question discussion on Latvian TV, Andris Berzinsh, the Prime Minister of Latvia and the leader of the Latvian Way party, said, 'The lack of political will in Russia is detrimental to Latvian-Russian relations'. Mr. Berzinsh pointed out that it was Russia delaying the signing of the already prepared by a bilateral intergovernmental commission agreements on social security and the elimination of double taxation, while Latvia would sign them any moment. 'The ball is on the Russian side of the field', the Prime Minister continued to say. 'We were prepared to sign even back in March'. Mr. Berzinsh also said Russia's joining the World Trade Organisation should be encouraged.

Gundars Berzinsh, the Finance Minister of the Latvian Republic, who represented the People's Party in the discussion, said Russia was after a greater influence in Baltia and was trying to delay the development of Latvia. Yuris Boyars, the leader of the Latvian Social Democratic Workers' Party said that the enemy tag attached to Latvia in Russia and vice versa must be removed. This, he said, could be achieved through the further development of cultural connections with Russia, including exchanging radio and TV programmes. Ziedonis Chevers, the leader of the Party of Freedom, said any contemporary politician trying to improve relations with Russia before Washington or Brussels said so was a political corpse.

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