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Latvian businessman: We need to replace US as partner by China

Arnolds Babris. Photo: freecity.lv

Arnolds Babris, the head of the Latvian Brīvais vilnis ("Free Wave") fish processing company in an interview with the Neatkarīgā Rīta Avīze (Independent Morning Newspaper) said that if the United States does not take into account Riga's interests, then it's time to think of changing the strategic partner. So the collapse of the ABLV bank Babris has commented, who once served in the Latvian Constitution Protection Bureau (counter-espionage).

As previously reported, on February 24, the European Central Bank (ECB) decided to liquidate the ABLV Bank. Earlier, on February 13, The Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) of the US Department of the Treasury reported that ABLV could be linked to international money laundering and bribery of officials in Latvia - and the bank was listed on the US sanctions list. The Latvian supervisory authorities, special services and police have begun checking this information. ABLV Bank's leadership rejected the charges, but the institution suspended its membership in the Association of Latvian Commercial Banks. Within a week after the message, 600 million euros were withdrawn from the bank, and on February 26, the ABLV shareholders' meeting at an extraordinary meeting took a decision on self-liquidating. The bank considered only this way to be able to protect its assets in order to settle accounts with customers.

"What happened was a blow below the belt. The letter (FinCen - EADaily) declared the bank toxic and killed it. ABLV was ranked among the banks involved in money laundering operations. This means that other banks that cooperate with ABLV may be infected and suspected. Thus, without waiting sixty days for answers and explanations, ABLV was killed. It was a demonstration that the US can kill financial institutions in the EU that are under the European Central Bank supervision. Awesome! Three days after the US message, 600 million were withdrawn from the bank. Now it is very important that a successful self-liquidation of ABLV takes place, so that the bank itself could settle with all creditors. ABLV must demonstrate that, despite the fact of being liquidated, it would have paid back all its customers and fulfilled out all the obligations it had undertaken. This will be a good signal to the world: you can invest in Latvian banks, and even if the bank is liquidated, you would receive your money back," Babris said.

He also added, that "if the strategic partner becomes shoddy, and does not count with our interests, then maybe it's time to think about changing the strategic partner". "The global state in the world is now not the US, but China - and therefore it is way to start thinking that time for us to take care of our interests has come. In the world there is no policy declared by society - there are only interests. Where are our national interests? A question for our politicians: why do they get ahead of themselves for the sake of others' interests, without reckoning with ours? For example, I have great respect for the Finns - Mannerheim demonstrated how to protect the interests of Finland. I have great respect for the Singaporean genius Lee Kuan Yew, who also constantly thought about the national interests of his country. If our politicians protect other people's interests, then why should we keep these politicians? I publicly call Aivars Lembergs to file a lawsuit against Edgars Rinkevics, who took the decision that caused losses to Ventspils and the state in connection with the Nord Stream-2 project. Because of the actions of Rinkevics, this project was not abandoned - it was transferred to Sweden. And we lost millions. Why do we need politicians and officials who do not protect the national interests of our country?", the businessman argued.

Recall that in June last year, Latvia's Foreign Minister Edgars Rinkevics, said that the state's participation in the Nord Stream-2 project is a threat to the security of the state and is not of country’s economic interests. The proposal suggested that the port of Ventspils could take the pipes necessary for the construction of the gas pipeline, store them on its sites and deliver them to the place of laying at the sea. Moreover, investors offered to invest 14 million euros in the port by constructing additional cargo areas of 7 hectares, which would then be transferred to Ventspils.

But, according to Rinkevics, the use of the country’s territory for the gas pipeline construction could be used as a "cover for the intelligence activity of Russian special services in Latvia." "The government of Latvia is against the Nord Stream – 2, because its state support would openly contradict the basic principles of our foreign policy aimed at cooperation with the EU and NATO countries," said the minister.

Aivars Lembergs, the Ventspils Mayor, could not hide his annoyance and expressly stated that Riga refused to participate in the project, obeying the external pressure. The mayor had the hope that, despite the government's refusal, some private companies from Ventspils would still be able to participate in the project, but the Russians said they did not want to do anything "from the back door"; they would respect the will of the Latvian government and would dispense without its participation. "The total damage to the national economy of Latvia will be about 100 million euros," said the enraged mayor in this regard.

Recall, in his message to the Federal Assembly, Putin announced the emergence in the Russian Federation of several types of weapons based on the "new physical principles." In general, we are talking about missiles that can bypass any existing missile defense system.

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