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Opinions & Interviews

15 Nov 2018

Belarus’ drive to establish good relations noted

Belarus’ drive to establish good relations noted

MINSK, 15 November (BelTA) – Belarus has always been the initiator and author of good relations with other countries, BelTA learned from the Latvian ex-president Guntis Ulmanis as an exhibition dedicated to 100 years since the declaration of Latvia’s independence opened in the National Art Museum of Belarus on 15 November.

Guntis Ulmanis described Belarus-Latvia relations over the course of the entire history in the same manner. “A good neighbor is half the battle in the development of every country,” he said.

The ex-president described Latvia and Belarus as very close countries, which had seen difficult and happy times over the course of many years. Guntis Ulmanis said he always admires Minsk. “When I am in Europe, I always say: go to Minsk and see how people can live after many tragic years and other events,” said the ex-president.

Guntis Ulmanis went on saying that Belarusians can see better what problems their country needs to resolve but as a guest he is always happy to hear about accomplishments in the neighboring country.

Guntis Ulmanis stated that various events happen in the modern world and many of them happen against the will of the countries, which get involved in those events. “This is why we should think not only about the past but also about our future,” he believes.

Guntis Ulmanis also noted that people of Belarus and Latvia have never had a conflict over the course of the entire world history. Moreover, they lived together in countries such as the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth (Rzeczpospolita), the Russian Empire, and the Soviet Union. Guntis Ulmanis mentioned some milestones in Latvia’s history and talked about his country’s choices in the modern world, in particular, membership in the European Union and NATO. “The fact that we are participants of these organizations does not prevent us from talking to any country, any nation about the matters we believe to be of primary importance. We believe that economy is one of the most important matters today,” stressed the Latvian ex-president.

When asked by BelTA to evaluate Belarusian-Latvian relations in view of the different choices the two countries had made after the USSR collapse, Guntis Ulmanis said that every country follows its own way. In his words, when he arrives in a foreign country, he talks about how the Lithuanian nation deals with various problems. “If some solutions fit your country, feel free to adopt them. If they don’t, feel free to go your own way,” he added.

Speaking about relations with Belarus, the ex-president mentioned very active contacts at various levels. These contacts have been in place for a quarter of the century since diplomatic relations were established in the modern day and age. Besides, the countries are connected by close human and cultural contacts particularly considering the fact that Latvia is home to dozens of thousands of ethnic Belarusians.

While talking to mass media Guntis Ulmanis also offered his opinion about the situation in the region. He made it clear that negotiations are the best tool for resolving conflict situations. “Evil and hatred are bad advisors. I believe it is necessary to hold meetings at every possible level. Every nation will give a hint to politicians about how they should live and learn to communicate,” he said.

An exhibition dedicated to 100 years since the declaration of Latvia’s independence from the point of view of history, art, and traditions opened in the National Art Museum of Belarus on 15 November. Guntis Ulmanis took part in the opening ceremony. The exhibition was organized by the National History Museum of Latvia in association with the Latvian embassy in Belarus and the National Art Museum of Belarus.

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