Latvian president on historic visit to Moscow


Latvian president Valdis Zatlers at the World Economic Forum in Davos © World Economic Forum 2010

Latvian president Valdis Zatlers began his four-day visit to Russia yesterday. The visit is considered to be historic as it is the first visit of a Latvian head of state to Moscow since the withdrawal of Russian troops from the former Soviet Republic in 1994.

While Mr Zatlers’ visit was officially meant to symbolise the improvement made in Latvian-Russian relations in the last years, the accidental publication of a report which called for 300 billion euros ($395 billion) of compensation for the losses Latvia experienced during Soviet occupation from 1941 to 1991 on a governmental website has created some irritations.

The government declared the report had not been finalised – it is however very unlikely that Russia could ever be effectively billed for any compensation (also because Latvian politicians are divided or indifferent on the matter).

President Zatlers is not going to discuss this topic during meetings with Russian president Medvedev and other officials. On the contrary, problems of domestic policy and Russia-EU relations are on the official agenda. Today at the ‘Latvia-Russia Business Forum’, Mr Zatlers even declared his support for a free visa regime between the EU and Russia. The Russian government had been submitted proposals for draft regulations to the European Commission earlier this year.

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