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    RUSSIAN MP OPTIMISTIC ABOUT LATVIA'S NEW CABINET

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    MOSCOW, MARCH 10 (RIA NOVOSTI) - Latvia's new Cabinet gives a chance to settle a burning domestic issue with a reform of Russian-language schools, expects Konstantin Kosachev, international affairs committee head in the State Duma, Russia's lower parliamentary house.

    The Latvian parliament approved the new Cabinet yesterday. There are no extreme nationalists on it, and that matters most to Russia, the MP said to Novosti. "A unique chance has appeared [for the government] to resume a dialogue with ethnic Russian spokesmen and so put an end to tensions and reach a compromise that will allow not to abuse ethnic Russians' rights." Mr. Kosachev hopes the new Cabinet "will be more flexible than the previous, and will lend an attentive ear to ethnic Russians' needs." Soon to join the European Union, Latvia will spectacularly gain if it improves relations with Russia, he points out.

    If Latvia really means to be a full-fledged European democracy, it is in for serious problems as it is bringing its "negative luggage" to united Europe, warns Mr. Kosachev.

    Be that as it may, Indulis Emsis, Latvia's new Prime Minister, recently said he intended to resume cooperation with Russia, both direct and via the EU and NATO. That makes Konstantin Kosachev hopeful. In particular, he expects ethnic Russians' situation to improve.

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