‘Rebel’ Latvian MEP To Meet Assad Again

Andrejs Mamikins, a Latvian Member of the European Parliament (MEP), has decided to meet Syrian President Bashar al-Assad for the second time (in four months), despite receiving a warning from the Maris Kucinskis government in Riga.
In December, Mamikins visited the war-ravaged West Asian nation as part of a delegation that included Estonian MEP Yana Toom, Italian MEP Stefano Maullu and some members of the Federal Assembly, Upper House of the Russian Parliament. Later, Latvian Foreign Minister Edgars Rinkevics slammed the MEP for meeting President al-Assad, saying that Mamikins should not visit Syria without informing the government. The minister also described Mamikins’ meeting with the Syrian president as “unacceptable”.
However, Mamikins has decided to meet President al-Assad for the second time in near future. He told the Latvian media earlier this week that Toom would accompany him, as they planned a new trip to Syria. The MEP said that the foreign minister should try to understand the purpose of his visit. He also urged Rinkevics to allow him to explain Latvia’s official stance on the Syrian issue to the al-Assad government.
Meanwhile, Rinkevics rejected Mamikins’ request, saying that anyone could find Latvia’s official stand on the Syrian crisis on the website of the Foreign Ministry. He said that members of the Syrian regime should be brought to justice in the International Criminal Court first for committing crimes against humanity. “Any contacts, including meetings between MEPs and al-Assad are to be perceived as support for the activities of the Syrian regime, and this is unacceptable,” added the foreign minister.
Toom, too, informed the Estonian government that she was ready to visit Syria again. However, she did not disclose details of the visit due to security reasons. Although Estonian Prime Minister Juri Ratas has made no comments on Toom’s visit to Syria, he claimed that a MEP could not decide about his/her country’s foreign policy. PM Ratas is chairman of the Centre Party of which Toom is a member of the governing board.
In recent times, a number of European officials have started backing the Russian involvement in the Syrian civil war. Even, they don’t hesitate to ignore their governments’ instructions. The European countries are going through a difficult situation, as they are supporting the US’ stand on Syria, despite knowing the fact that America and Russia could start the Third World War over Syrian conflict. President Vladimir Putin has already blamed US and its European allies for the rise of Islamic State (IS) and the chaos and bloodshed in Syria, saying that Europe should back Russia and isolate America because it is Europe, and not America, which is facing the refugee crisis. Although the European leaders are yet to respond to Putin’s appeal, some officials, like Mamikins and Toom, have decided to take a clear stand on Syria issue.

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