RIGA, March 19 (LETA) - The Latvian leftist pro-Russia Harmony party does not intend to look into the recent visit to Syria made by its MEP, Andrejs Mamikins, because it had been 'a private trip'.
The leader of the Harmony and the Riga mayor, Nils Usakovs, said that the party board did not deal with private trips by the party members. Harmony's deputy chairman Janis Urbanovics also said that the trip to Syria had been Mamikins' private initiative.
Mamikins is a member of the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats (S&D) group in the European Parliament. After several individual MEPs visited Syria and met with President Bashar al-Assad, S&D Group published on its homepage a statement saying that the Group supported the efforts of the EU's high representative for foreign affairs and security policy and vice-president of the Commission, Federica Mogherini, to start as soon as possible the reconciliation process, a credible political transition and the reconstruction of Syria.
"In addition, we continue to strongly condemn the war crimes and atrocities committed by different actors in Syria, including by the Assad regime against its own citizens," the S&D Group said.
"The participation of a small number of the European Parliament’s members in a delegation to Syria, which involved meeting with the current regime, is reprehensible and doesn’t represent in any way the position of our Group and the one constantly expressed in all official documents of the European Parliament," the S&D Group said.
As reported, Mamikins was one of the five MEPs, who at the end of 2016 visited Syria and met with President Bashar al-Assad, members of the Syrian parliament, the minister of state for national reconciliation Affairs and other Syrian officials and the local religious leaders and also paid visits to the UN office in Syria and the Red Crescent.
Recently Mamikins announced in a letter to Latvian Foreign Minister Edgars Rinkevics that he was going to make another trip to Syria soon and to meet with Assad again. The foreign minister replied, that, in Latvia's opinion, representatives of the Syrian regime should be called to justice in the International Criminal Court for their crimes against civilians.
"Any contacts, including meetings between MEPs and Assad are to be perceived as support to the activities by the Syrian regime, and this is inacceptable," the Latvian foreign minister said in his reply to Mamikins.