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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Latvian President Seeks Border Pact




RIGA, Latvia -- Latvian President-elect Vaira Vike-Freiberga said Friday the Baltic state was ready for improved relations with Russia and hoped to sign a final border agreement with its neighbor.


"Latvia stands ready to sign a border agreement. We will remain open to any offers and in my understanding Latvia is continuing its friendly policies toward Russia," she said at her first news conference since parliament elected her president Thursday.


Relations between Riga and Moscow have been cool since Latvia regained independence from the Soviet Union in 1991, mainly due to the treatment of its large Russian-speaking minority. The issue has held up the border agreement.


Latvia changed its citizenship laws last year at the urging of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe and the European Union to remove restrictions on Russian-speakers, who comprise one-third of the population, applying to naturalize.


Russia had been critical of the restrictions in the past.


Vike-Freiberga said the integration of Russian-speakers could be considered the Baltic state's heaviest task.