Publication: Monitor Volume: 1 Issue: 136

In a November 8 note to Latvia, Lithuania attempted to redefine its claim to territorial waters and an economic zone in the Baltic Sea. On November 15 Latvia’s foreign ministry rejected Lithuania’s position. The Latvian response said that Latvia regards the concessions made during previous negotiations by Lithuania as binding, and cannot accept Lithuania’s return to its earlier claims. Yesterday, Lithuanian foreign minister Povilas Gylys replied at a news conference that Lithuania’s previous concessions did not have the status of agreements and are therefore not binding. He also said that Lithuania had revoked its concessions in response to Latvia’s own unilateral definition of its continental shelf claim in the oil drilling deal with two Western companies. Gylys charged that Latvia had violated the spirit of the bilateral negotiations and hurt Lithuania’s interests. (12)

Last week’s visit by a Latvian governmental delegation to Vilnius was poorly organized and failed in its stated purpose to explain the oil deal to the Lithuanian side. Instead it triggered this new round of polemics. Lithuania favors international arbitration or joint drilling in the disputed zone, while Latvia prefers demarcation of the zones through bilateral negotiation. But Latvia’s protracted government crisis is delaying the start of bilateral negotiations. Should the left-leaning bloc end up forming the Latvian government, its position may make a compromise even more difficult than it appears to be at present.

Dim View in Kiev of Relations With Russia.