Publication: Monitor Volume: 2 Issue: 206

According to Russian deputy foreign minister Sergey Krylov, "normalization of Russian-Estonian relations is impossible without cardinal changes in the Estonian authorities’ discriminatory policy toward our compatriots in that country." That, moreover, will not suffice: Russia "categorically rejects the Estonian leadership’s attempts at joining NATO… and will make clear what the consequences will be on all aspects of Russian-Estonian relations." Previewing tomorrow’s meeting between Foreign Ministers Yevgeny Primakov and Siim Kallas, Krylov went out of his way to stress that the Estonians had requested it and that the Russian side will use the meeting to raise these two issues. Krylov also dismissed Estonian prime minister Tiit Vahi’s recent, repeated offers to meet his Russian counterpart, Viktor Chernomyrdin, in Moscow. The political differences are too pronounced, Krylov said. Krylov’s remarks belied his previously stated regret that no high-level meeting has taken place for the past year and a half. (Interfax, November 1)

Moscow has similarly snubbed Latvian prime minister Andris Skele’s repeated and public offers to meet Chernomyrdin in Moscow. Krylov, who is responsible for "near abroad" affairs, is rightly considered a moderate among Russian policy makers. His remarks suggest that Moscow remains unreconciled to the Baltic states’ exercise of some basic sovereign prerogatives, which it seeks to portray as incompatible with normalization of relations with Russia.

Perennial Legal Issue Snags Latvian-Russian Border Talks.