Latvia president Vaira Vike-Freiberga has discovered the problems behind Russia-Latvia relations
As it turns out, the continuous conflicts between the two countries arise because of misinterpretation of history by "some Russian politicians."
The Latvia president spoke at an international conference dedicated to holocaust study organized by the International Commission of Historians. She said: "The interpretation of Russia - Latvia relations by the RF Foreign Ministry and individual politicians concerns historical issues. And, despite of the fact that democratic countries of the world have admitted that in 1940 the Soviet Union had occupied Latvia, Russia still will not recognize this fact." The Russian news agency Interfax reports the Latvia president said the biased interpretation of history is the reason for reproaches addressed to Latvia in connection with the issues of education, language and so on.
In other words, the reason why Russia and Latvia have problem relations is "the unbiased interpretation of historic events." How does one objectively interpret facts? Is the recognition of the fact that the USSR had occupied Latvia in 1940 objective? Well, let us allow the fact that the Soviet Union had occupied Latvia in 1940; but then it was occupied by Germany. What does this mean? Does this fact have any connection with the present-day events in Latvia, with Russian language study at schools and the right for participation in municipal elections for people without Latvian citizenship. Are these people responsible for what the Soviet government did in 1940?
If it is actually so, the present Riga goverment must recognize that today's actions of the government are revenge for offenses Latvians suffered 60 years ago and nothing else. If this fact is recognized, the situation will fall into place. From the point of view of political correctness, this measure is not quite correct, but it is honest at least.
If Latvian authorities follow this policy, they will acknowledge their policies are obviously racist. But in fact, this is what Latvia's policy is. There is hardly any other definition for what the Latvian authorities are doing: at the time when the UN Racial Discrimination Committee and Council of Europe Human Rights Commissioner Alvaro Gil-Robles recommended allowing people without Latvian citizenship to participate in the elections. Nils Muiznieks, the minister for special assignments, responded that they will not even discuss the issue. However, Mr. Nils Muiznieks has stated one of the basic reasons why the authorities will not allow people without Latvian citizenship and living in the republic to participate in elections. He says this is done because politicians are afraid of losing authority in the country's self-government bodies, including Riga where Russian-language population is a majority.
Some commercial on TV recommends: "Mind yourself first!" It is hardly likely to have any positive results when authorities appeal to the past for solutions concerning present inter-governmental relations. Indeed, every country does have something to remember.
Photo from BBC archives