Estonian foreign minister Toomas Ilves yesterday called on the West to support Estonia’s effort to conclude a border agreement with Russia. Estonia has proved that it has done everything to address Russian objections to earlier drafts in order to clear the way for the signing, Ilves said. In refusing to sign the agreement, Russia seeks to foil Estonia’s aspirations to join the European Union and NATO; the Western countries must not condone such methods, Ilves said. (BNS, January 28)
Aware that European Union and NATO countries are requiring the Baltic states to settle border issues with Russia, Moscow is stalling the negotiations or signing of the agreements in the hope of derailing Baltic efforts to join those organizations. Foreign Minister Yevgeni Primakov initialed the agreement with Ilves’ predecessor, Siim Kallas, last November after Estonia dropped claims to territory it had lost to Russia. Estonia also bowed to Moscow’s refusal to include a reference to the 1920 Russian-Estonian peace treaty in the border agreement. But Primakov then postponed the signing of the initialed agreement, conditioning it on such unrelated issues as ending Estonia’s alleged mistreatment of ethnic Russians. Adopting the same tactic, Russian prime minister Viktor Chernomyrdin warned at a January 25 leadership conference of the governmental movement "Russia is Our Home" that Latvia and Estonia must change their policy toward the "Russian-speaking population…if they want to be admitted to European structures." And Russia’s new ambassador to Latvia, Aleksandr Udaltsov, was cited as suggesting the same linkage in Riga yesterday. (BNS, January 25, 28)
Region Not a Russian Backyard, Top Georgian Officials Tell West.