Russia and Latvia have signed a border deal, ending a fifteen-year dispute over the area. Since the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991, relations between the two parties have been frosty but it is hoped this pact, signed in Moscow, will warm relations between the countries.
However, Michael Fradkov, the Russian Prime Minister, is cautious about the deal’s impact. “There is a lot of work still to be done in the future. This is a very important step towards each other, whilst looking at the interests of the two parties. We are ready for that, and one hopes for the same attitude on the Latvian side,” said Fradkov after signing the agreement.
The treaty was originally drawn up ten years ago but never ratified as disagreements about the Soviet past continued. There has been considerable opposition to the deal from Latvians; a small piece of post-Soviet Latvia becomes Russian under the accord.
With Latvia now a member of the EU, it is hoped improved relations will spread to business – its border represents the Union’s border with Russia too. There is much at stake, with trade between the two countries reaching 850 million euros in 2005.