Publication: Monitor Volume: 1 Issue: 146

Latvian foreign minister Valdis Birkavs has rejected suggestions regarding Estonian mediation in the dispute between Latvia and Lithuania over their mutual maritime border in an area believed to contain oil deposits. Birkavs told a news conference that Latvia favors bilateral talks or, failing that, international mediation. He said that Estonia’s offer to mediate between Latvia and Lithuania was paralleled by an offer from Lithuania to mediate a maritime border dispute between Latvia and Estonia. But "there can’t be mediation is a situation when both countries are interested in cutting off a piece from Latvia," Birkavs said. He remarked that Latvia had consented to give up the method of drawing its sea border with Lithuania along a median line between land territories, in order to create a precedent favorable to Lithuania in the matter of demarcating its maritime areas from those of Russia’s Koenigsberg/Kaliningrad exclave. (10)

Proposals for Estonian mediation have been aired in all three Baltic countries and endorsed by Arnold Ruutel, the Estonian chairman of the interparliamentary Baltic Assembly’s presidium. Estonian Foreign Ministry officials recently said that Estonia and Latvia have differences over the demarcation of their respective waters in a part of the Gulf of Riga. According to the officials, Estonia has declared that area to be part of its economic zone, while Latvia says that it should be a common economic zone. The two governments are seeking a negotiated solution and have agreed to withhold details of their negotiations. (11)

Ukraine Inching Toward Chernobyl Closure.