Zatlers congratulates new Russian president

Latvian President Valdis Zatlers has congratulated new Russian President Dmitry Medvedev on his election March 2, noting that relations between the two countries have improved in the past year.

Medvedev, 42, received more than 70 percent of votes in the Russian election, a process many outside observers said was assured when two-term President Vladimir Putin hand picked his successor. Putin is to become prime minister under Medvedev, guaranteeing that he will continue to have a powerful role in Russian affairs.

Zatlers sent a letter to Medvedev on March 5, wishing the new president well on his election, according to a spokesperson. Zatlers also told Medvedev that relations between Latvia and Russia should continue to be develeoped constructively, based on mutual understanding and advantage.

During the past year, the major diplomatic accomplishment for the two countries was signing of a border agreement in which Latvia recognized that the Abrene region is part of Russia. Although the territory was part of eastern Latvia after the signing of a peace treaty in 1920, under Soviet occupation the region in 1944 was made part of Russia.

But the past year also has seen points of tension. In January, Latvia expelled a Russian diplomat accused of spying and, in turn, Russia showed the door to a Latvian diplomat.

Final results in the Russian vote are expected to be announced March 7 by the country’s Central Election Commission.

Andris Straumanis is a special correspondent for and a co-founder of Latvians Online. From 2000–2012 he was editor of the website.

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