Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Ratification coming after signing an agreement?

Border agreement between Latvia and Russia was signed in Moscow today. Another history page could be turned now, but Latvian constitutional crisis is still simmering. Thus, the effectiveness of the Latvian and Russian diplomacy now depends on the two collective bodies - the Russian Duma and the Latvian Saeima.

Economy is flourishing and perhaps one day we might even witness reopening of the Ventspils oleoduct, especially now, when the "Ventspils self-made duke" is in jail. There are signals about the Chinese officials being interested in using the Baltic ports, and Latvian government has ben rather instrumental in this. Even if I do not appreciate the way Mr Slesers publicly behaves it must be admitted that he is among the very few visionaries in the otherwise ossified Latvian political landscape. His plans are ambitious, and Air Baltic Inc. plan to rent Boing 757 for the long haul flight between Riga & Beijing merits his degree of ambition indeed:)

But to conclude today' s short entry what is a rough costs-benefits analysis for the Latvian public from the signed border agrement?

Pros:

- there is another border issue solved, thus adding to the sovereign credibility of a small state
- border agreement is signed prior the Rusian presidential race in 2008
- it will alleviate our EU&NATO partners in their negotation process with Russia
- it takes the emotionally ladden history discourse between two countries off the agenda
- it opens new opportunities to the Latvian businessman
- it allows to take the "Russian scare" topic off the agenda in Latvian mass media and focus on more urgent matters (from the long term sustainability of the Latvian state point of view) - education, economic competitiveness, local government and eradication of the causes of corruption
- overheated economy could allow the solidarity to flourish and enable other EU firms to really participate in the big infrastructure projects in Latvia

Cons:

- border aagreement was played by Latvians themselves out of their hands in 2005, thus border agreement was finally signed on Russian terms
- border agrement wont change raditionally negative Russian attitude about the Baltic States because it serves their domestic needs
- it does not solve the problem of passing through capacity of the border posts
- it would not improve the transport infrastructure immediately and overheated economy does only add to this problem

On the rough counting the result is 7:4 in favour of PROS. So be it, and lets see how the domestic situation shall evolve, and how knowledgable the Latvian elite shall be in utilizing these opportunities.

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