The former mayor of Riga points out the importance of relations with Russia and Belarus for Latvia

RIGA (UrduPoint News / Sputnik – July 23, 2021) Relations with Russia and Belarus will always be important to Latvia as the countries share borders and close ties exist between their peoples, Nils Ušakovs, Member of the European Parliament and former Mayor of Latvia Capital, said Sputnik on Friday.

“We have to look at the map, this is Latvia and this is our common border with Russia, our big neighbor. We can see how economic relations develop. This cooperation will always be important. History shows that government forces are in different countries change, but the nations remain. We have relations with the Russian people. Therefore, relations with Moscow and Minsk will always be important to us, “said Ušakovs.

The politician acknowledged the tensions in the European Union’s relations with Russia and Belarus and said the effects are being felt in Latvia. He believes everyone involved is responsible for the decline.

“Yes, the crisis is serious and particularly hard for us in Latvia from an economic point of view and for many residents also from a psychological and even personal point of view,” added Ušakovs.

Relations between Moscow and Brussels fell in 2014 because of the reunification of Crimea with Russia and the armed conflict in eastern Ukraine.

Since then, the Latvian leadership has repeatedly called for Moscow to be “held accountable” for the alleged occupation of Crimea by Russia and its participation in the Donbass region.

Recently, the EU has also put increased pressure on Minsk after the presidential elections in Belarus in August 2020, in which President Alexander Lukashenko was in office for the sixth time. Brussels has imposed several rounds of sanctions against certain Belarusian officials and entities held responsible for electoral fraud and violence in suppressing massive post-election rallies.

The feud came to a head in May when a Ryanair plane landed in Minsk over a bomb threat and a Belarusian opposition journalist was arrested while passengers disembarked.

Latvia protested the crackdown on the Belarusian opposition by replacing the state flag with that of the opposition during the Ice Hockey World Cup in Riga. The tension resulted in the expulsion of Latvian and Belarusian diplomats from their respective embassies.

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