Latvian Foreign Minister Valdis Birkavs yesterday declined Russian President Boris Yeltsin’s proposals for a political treaty or charter that would parallel the U.S.-Baltic Charter. Birkavs announced at a briefing that Yeltsin had advanced the proposals last week in a letter to Latvian President Guntis Ulmanis. Spelling out Riga’s response, Birkavs ruled out any parallelism because "our past and present relations with Russia differ somewhat from our relations with the USA." Future consideration of any Russian-Latvian political charter would have to be preceded by: Russian acceptance of Latvia’s goal to join NATO, a professional assessment of the history of Russian-Latvian relations (i.e. the period of occupation), and a series of confidence-building steps, Birkavs stated.
The Foreign Minister at the same time welcomed the invitation to political dialogue, which had been made in Yeltsin’s letter. Birkavs, who is one of the leaders of Latvia’s Way party, urged a dialogue among Russian and Latvian political parties and parliamentary groups. Birkavs did not make clear whether Yeltsin had addressed this offer to Estonia and Lithuania as well, or whether the Kremlin’s proposals included the Russian-Baltic subregional security plan, which the Baltic states have already turned down. (BNS, Russian agencies, February 25)
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