Thursday, May 03, 2007

NATO and the US support Estonia

Via the BBC:

“Nato is deeply concerned by threats to the physical safety of Estonian diplomatic staff, including the ambassador, in Moscow, as well as intimidation at the Estonian embassy,” the statement said.

“These actions are unacceptable, and must be stopped immediately; tensions over the Soviet war memorial and graves in Estonia must be resolved diplomatically between the two countries.”

But Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Estonia’s decision to move the statue had “led to seriously negative consequences for Russian-Estonian relations”.

In a phone call to his Estonian counterpart Urmas Paet, he said the Moscow protest would be kept within the law.

On Wednesday, Estonia’s foreign ministry said there was an attempt to physically assault their ambassador at a news conference, as members of the Russian youth organisation “Nashi” tried to disrupt it.

It said the incident amounted to a violation of diplomatic conventions.

Reports said Russian police also scuffled with activists outside the Estonian embassy, arresting one person as protesters attempted to prevent diplomats entering or leaving the building.
The Swedish foreign ministry has meanwhile submitted a formal protest to Russia after its ambassador’s car was stopped and damaged by a crowd outside the Estonian embassy in Moscow.

Following the disturbances, the European Union said it would send a delegation to raise concerns with Russia over the increasing violence.

A European Commission spokeswoman said the EU “strongly urged” the Russian authorities to implement their obligations under the Vienna Convention for diplomatic relations.

US State Department spokesman Tom Casey called on the Moscow authorities to do everything they could to reduce tensions.

More than a quarter of Estonia’s 1.3 million people are ethnically Russian, and speak Russian. However, half of them do not have Estonian citizenship.

During the years of Soviet occupation after the war tens of thousands of Estonians were killed. They say their country was effectively colonised, with many Russians being brought in as workers and military personnel.
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