“The EU has the right to question Russia about its role in the Ukraine conflict and get a response,” he said in the interview. “But sanctions are not the instrument by which you get something done in relations with Russia. It was clear from the start that this would not work.”
“It’s a shame Europe has chosen this particular path. On our part we’re waiting for changes in the politics,” the mayor added.
“The main impression remaining in Latvia is one of a sharp deterioration in relations between the EU and Russia,” he pointed out.
“Latvia has never been the initiator or prime supporter of the EU’s sanctions against Russia. In Latvia’s case we could talk about missed opportunities. In light of our own economic interests we could have been more intent on standing up for pragmatic relations between Russia and the EU.”
Ušakovs said he was certain that Latvia has suffered seriously from the crisis in EU-Russian relations.
“We already see a fall in tourism and interest in the residency requirements for investors in real estate. Now we hear that Transneft is reorienting its gas shipments through Riga and Ventspils toward Russian ports. The sanctions, together with the fall in the ruble’s value, have given a real shock to Latvia’s exports there.”
Under these circumstances the Riga City Council has nevertheless managed to maintain good relations with the administration of the city of Moscow.
“This gives us hope that the fall in various positions will be less harshly felt in Riga. We look with trepidation towards next year, when the Free Port could lose a great deal of its projected growth,” the mayor fretted.