Latvian PM's visit in Belarus may affect Lithuania's Klaipeda port – political scientist

Minsk
Foto: DELFI

The Latvian prime minister's visit in Belarus may consolidate Latvia's chances of getting the biggest share of Belarusian freight at the expense of the Lithuanian Klaipėda port, says Laurynas Jonavičius, lecturer at the Vilnius University's International Relations and Political Science Institute.

During a visit in Minsk earlier this week, Maris Kucinskis, the head of the Latvian government, met with the Belarusian president and prime minister, Alexander Lukashenko and Andrei Kobyakov.

In Jonavicius' words, the visit focused on the transit of Belarusian freight and the nuclear power plant under construction in Astravyets.

Lithuania has failed to persuade Latvia to join the boycott of the power plant's electricity for security reasons, furthermore, the two Baltic neighbors compete for transit of Belarusian freight.

"The visit was highly pragmatic from the Latvian and the Belarusian point of view. From our standpoint, there were two important issues – the nuclear power plant and transit, and this is what topped the agenda," Jonavičius told BNS on Friday.

"It is in the interest of Latvians that the Belarusians carried transit via their ports, this is direct competition with the Klaipėda port. Through direct conversations with Lukashenko, there are chances to achieve something, knowing that he prefers direct agreements," said the political scientist.

"The position of Latvians on the nuclear facility was different from ours, and Lukashenko openly commends them for this, they even signed an agreement on early warning in case of nuclear accident," said Jonavičius.

In his words, the Klaipėda port features objective advantages for Belarus, however, Latvia can take advantage of the tensions between Minsk and Vilnius in the negotiations on new flows, especially in case of increased Chinese investments in Belarus.

"With a dialogue in place, Latvians have the potential of changing something. Clearly, the Lithuanian position on Astravyets causes major resentment in Belarus. On the other hand, Klaipėda is closer, there are developed strong ties, freight has been traveling well for a long time. We could probably talk about emergence of new traffic flows, which could be diverted via Latvia," said the political scientist.

Source: BNS
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