Archive for Latvia
The Polish Foreign Ministry summoned the Russian ambassador to protest remarks by Russian nationalist politician Vladimir Zhirinovsky. Speaking on state Rossiya 24 television last week, Zhirinovsky said that Poland and the Baltic states would be “wiped out” should a war break out between Russia and the West. Polish Foreign Minister Radoslav Sikorski said the remarks were “scandalous.” He said Zhirinovsky, a lawmaker and the leader of the Liberal Democratic Party, “is neither a backbencher nor a private person.” Zhirinovsky is known for his outrageous comments. Latvia’s Foreign Ministry also summoned Russian Ambassador to Latvia Alexander Veshnyakov after a politician in Russia said the Baltics and Poland would be ‘annihilated.’ But Ambassador Veshnyakov said Zhirinovsky’s views did not mirror Russia’s official stance on the issue.
The Spanish Ministry of Foreign Affairs summoned on Tuesday the “Catalonia supporting” ambassadors of Latvia and Lithuania. Spanish Foreign Minister Jose Manuel Garcia Margallo called Latvian ambassador to Spain Janis Echemanis and Lithuania’s ambassador to Spain Audra Plepyte on account of their supporting demands by Spain’s Catalonia region for independence. Margallo expressed Spain’s reactions against the issue, reminding of the Spanish constitution and the entrance rules to the European Union (EU). “No opinion to support Catalonia’s independence has been stated, the Spanish media has falsified the statements,” the governments of Latvia and Lithuania said in a written statement.
Russia’s ambassador to Latvia expressed surprise and anger over a report by the country’s Bureau for the Protection of the Constitution accusing Moscow of a deliberate smear campaign. In an article published in the Latvian capital Riga, Ambassador Aleksandr Veshnyakov writes that the report made him feel that the Cold War had returned. As he explained, it first lists several hidden objectives Russia is allegedly pursuing in order to hurt Latvia, then goes on to name its main tools: the mass media, news agencies, NGOs and even ethnic Russians. The diplomat writes that Moscow does not have any secret agenda or hidden objectives in Latvia. There are no problems in Russian-Latvian relations of which Riga is not aware, and which have not been discussed with Latvia in all possible formats, he stresses. The report claims that the Russian plan is to portray Latvia as a failed country, whose main mistake was to leave the Soviet Union.
Civil Service Commissioner Shmuel Hollander and Foreign Ministry Director Yossi Gal agreed on Wednesday that Ze’ev Ben Aryeh, now ambassador designate to Latvia and Lithuania and until recently Israel’s envoy to Belarus, will take a forced vacation as the investigation into his actions related to the police investigation of Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman continues. Ties between Ben Aryeh and Avigdor Lieberman came under scrutiny this week as Lieberman fought to avert impending corruption charges. Ben Aryeh, until recently an anonymous junior diplomat, is suspected of leaking to Lieberman secret details of a police investigation that may soon result in a criminal indictment against the controversial minister. How Ben Aryeh, who immigrated to Israel in his thirties and is said to have only a faltering command of Hebrew, emerged from obscurity to lead key diplomatic missions to the former Soviet Union has been the subject of intense speculation among foreign ministry officials. Many diplomats were shocked when eventually Ben Aryeh, now in his 60s and like Lieberman a former Israel Radio employee, was appointed ambassador. Many suggest that without Lieberman’s patronage, he would never have advanced beyond routine desk work in Jerusalem. Less than 12 months after his previous promotion, he saw off competition from several senior and more experienced candidates for the post of ambassador to Latvia and Lithuania. Diplomats contacted by Haaretz were unanimous in their anger over the affair: “Never in the history of the Israeli diplomatic service have we seen this kind of outrage,” one said. “These are dark days for the foreign ministry.