Latvian Foreign Minister Valdis Birkavs worried aloud yesterday that with Primakov at the head of Russia’s government, “Russian-Latvian relations will not improve. On the contrary, chances grow that Russia will take steps against Latvia.” Estonia’s former Foreign Minister Siim Kallas, citing his own experience of negotiating with Primakov, remarked that Russia’s prime minister-designate “harbors a barely concealed animosity toward the Baltic states… he still begrudges them for having broken away from the Soviet Union.”
Primakov has been a key influence behind Russia’s decision to freeze the border agreements with Estonia and Latvia in the hope of complicating their relations with the West, and placed his ministry at the forefront of Moscow’s recent political campaign against Latvia. Western foreign ministers, who were slow to react to that campaign, ultimately advised Primakov at a conference–as one of them summed it up–“not to break the camel’s back” through escalating demands on Latvia. (see the Monitor, June 26)
LUKASHENKA’S TEAM TAKES HEART FROM PRIMAKOV’S ASCENT.