In a press interview yesterday, Estonian foreign minister Siim Kallas discussed evidence that Russian government agencies responsible for foreign policy plan to increase pressure on Estonia in 1996. Kallas added that the success of political forces hostile to Baltic independence in the Duma elections would affect the Russian government’s policy. He expressed concern that President Boris Yeltsin’s New Year address, which warned of countermeasures to alleged discrimination against Russians in the "near abroad," failed to mention assistance to Russians who wish to return home from the newly independent states. (13)
Even before the Duma elections in December, Russia’s presumably moderate Foreign Ministry continued to criticize Estonia, failing to acknowledge substantial recent concessions on its part. Those concessions include an offer to officially abandon claims to Estonian territory annexed by Russia at the time of the Soviet occupation; postponement of Estonian language tests for civil service and municipal employees who are not citizens of Estonia; and parliamentary ratification of an agreement that obligates Estonia to extend residency and social guarantees to veterans of Soviet occupation forces who have remained in Estonia. Kallas, who took over the foreign ministry in a recent government reshuffle, heads the Reform party, the country’s most consistent advocate of a rapid transition to a market economy and international openness.
Lithuanian Prime Minister Admits Mistake.