Updated at 15:34,14-12-2017

Belarus and Latvia have common regional problems, Latvian MP says

By Alyaksey Alyaksandraw, BelaPAN

Belarus and Latvia have common regional problems, Ojars Eriks Kalnins, chairman of the international affairs committee at Latvias Saeima (parliament), said during a meeting in the House of Representatives in Minsk on Monday.

Although our political views and approaches differ, therere common problems: terrorism, migration and conflicts in our region, said Mr. Kalnins, who is vice president of NATOs Parliamentary Assembly. We should work together, as these conflicts affect our countries as well.

In their dealings with Belarusian colleagues, Latvian MPs seek to encourage the development of ties between the people of the two countries and, as representatives of the European Union and NATO, to improve Europes understanding of Belarus, Mr. Kalnins said.

Vital Busko, chairman of the International Affairs Committee in the House of Representatives, expressed satisfaction with his visit to Riga following the Fourth Eastern Partnership Summit in the Latvian capital city this past May. According to Mr. Busko, the visit made him feel for the first time in several years that the attitude to Belarus had changed for the better and Europe was interested in reengagement.

Our country is very grateful to you for your support in the most difficult times, Mr. Busko said. When there were attempts to impose heavy economic sanctions, [when there was] political pressure, Latvia always raised its voice, which calmed the hot heads a little.

According to Mr. Busko, Latvias played a very important role in the EUs decision to suspend its restrictive measures against Belarus at the end of October 2015. He said that Belarus national legislature was ready for contacts with Latvian lawmakers to discuss economic and political cooperation issues and possible legislative measures to create favorable conditions for Belarusian and Latvian companies in the other country. He said that the two countries should try to bring their trade back to its 2011 and 2012 level of about $3 billion a year.

Speaking to reporters, Mr. Busko said that Belarusian and Latvian MPs were working on a bill of amendments to the interstate agreement on local border traffic.