On May 15, Russian President Boris Yeltsin offered to meet “soon” with Latvian President Guntis Ulmanis in order to “move closer” to signing the long-pending border agreement among the two countries. Acknowledging the Latvian parliament’s readiness to take decisions that “do not violate the rights of Russians,” Yeltsin promised that Russia would in turn “not take discriminatory measures against the Baltic countries.” But he indicated on a warning note that “the problems with Estonia are more complicated.” (Russian TV and agencies, May 15).
The Russian president was thereby suggesting that Moscow would lift the unofficial economic sanctions against Latvia if the parliament in Riga adopts the legal amendments currently under consideration, which would simplify the naturalization of Russians in Latvia. Yeltsin spoke on landing in Birmingham for the G-8 summit. He may have sought to preempt criticism or even to score points ahead of the conclave. As has often been the case in the recent past, his statement may well have taken the Foreign Ministry by surprise.
In Riga, President Guntis Ulmanis and the Foreign Ministry welcomed Yeltsin’s apparent overture. Recalling that Ulmanis has been seeking an invitation from Yeltsin since at least 1995, the Latvian presidential office and Foreign Ministry called for setting a date in order to begin the high-level dialogue. The Latvian statements indicated that Yeltsin’s overture was not to be considered an improvised one and that Riga will seriously pursue it. (BNS, Radio Riga, May 15 and 16)
KGB ALIVE AND WELL IN TRANSDNIESTER.