Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Russia Denounces...

More on the issue of the Russia-Estonia border treaty:

The Russian Foreign Ministry sent a letter to its Estonian counterpart on 27 June saying that Russia is recalling its signature from the Russian-Estonian Border Treaty signed on 18 May and will begin the official procedure of revoking it, international media reported. According to the Russian note, the Estonian parliament inserted into the ratification of the treaty some documents that include "unacceptable" legal wording concerning the Soviet occupation of the country and it forcible inclusion into the USSR (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 20, 21, and 23 June 2005). Speaking on 27 June in Helsinki, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said that "Estonia has not fulfilled its obligations, so we are withdrawing our signature from these [land and sea border] treaties. Of course we cannot talk about ratification at this time because there will be no treaties to ratify. In order to resolve border issues between Russia and Estonia, the two sides will have to restart negotiations," RTR reported. VY

Earlier on 27 June in Moscow, Lavrov also made a statement criticizing Estonia and the other Baltic states for "attempts to rewrite history and to equate the victims and the henchmen, the liberators and the occupiers," RTR reported. "It is worth noting that the victory by the peoples of the Soviet Union gave those making such attempts [to rewrite history] an opportunity to play these games...and even to speak freely," Lavrov said. Observers noted that Lavrov was, in fact, only repeating a statement made on 22 June at the Council of Europe in Strasbourg by Duma Foreign Relations Committee Deputy Chairwoman Nataliya Narochnitskaya (Motherland). VY

Estonian Foreign Minister Urmas Paet said his country is "surprised by the Russian Foreign Ministry statement and finds it regrettable," NTV reported on 27 June. "We hope that the Russian foreign minister will once again read the Estonian parliament document and realize that it contains neither territorial nor financial claims to Russia," NTV quoted Paet as saying. He added that Estonia will not change the text of the treaty, which has already been ratified by its parliament. Eero Raun, the press-secretary of Estonian President Arnold Ruutel, said in an interview with newsinfo.ru on 27 June that Russia does not want to recognize what is already recognized by the rest of the world. "For example, Russia failed to accept that Estonia became a sovereign state in 1918, but the world did," Raun noted. VY

The chairman of the Duma Foreign Affairs Committee, Konstantin Kosachev (Unified Russia), said on 27 June that "Estonia needs the treaty more than Russia does." He added that: "Nobody will rush us to sign it, not to mention to ratify it," RTR reported. The logic of Kosachev's words is understandable, RTR commented. Estonia will not be allowed to join the EU's Schengen zone of open borders until it settles all border issues with neighboring countries. Meanwhile, the chairman of the Federation Council's International Affairs Committee, Mikhail Margelov, said on 27 June that "both Russia and the EU need a stable border, but the law ratified by the Estonian parliament makes the border unstable and we cannot accept that," Ekho Moskvy reported. The deputy chairman of the Duma Foreign Affairs Committee, Leonid Slutskii (Unified Russia), told Ekho Moskvy that "denouncing the treaty with Estonia" is a rare occasion when all deputies, regardless of their political affiliation, will unconditionally support the government. VY

(RFE/RL Newsline, June 28)

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