Russia, Latvia sign border treaty
( RIA Novosti ) - Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Fradkov and his visiting Latvian counterpart Aigars Kalvitis have signed a border treaty, ending a drawn-out period of contention between the two post-Soviet neighbors.
By signing the treaty, EU member Latvia has officially recognized the post-Soviet borders with Russia, backtracking on its earlier territorial claims on a district in the neighboring Russian region of Pskov, which was part of the Baltic state before World War II.
"Formalizing the border in accordance with international laws will help solve one of the most problematic issues in our relations, which we believe must have positive consequences [for bilateral relations]," Fradkov said.
Talks on the accord, initialed in 1997, stalled last April with Riga adopting a unilateral declaration claiming the Russian territory and demanding that Russia acknowledge the Soviet Union's wartime aggression.
Moscow dismissed both claims as unfounded, and refused to sign the treaty unless Latvia dropped the declaration, which Latvia eventually agreed to do.
"All the difficulties that hindered the signing of the treaty have been overcome, and I deem it a good reason to continue discussions to resolve the many problems that have appeared over the 15 years during which a normal and objective dialogue has been absent," Kalvitis said in turn.
The premier said he expected the Latvian parliament to ratify the document by late May. "We hope that the Russian side will also do so in the near future," he added.