Publication: Monitor Volume: 1 Issue: 135

A new round of Russian-Estonian border demarcation talks, held in Tallinn November 14 and 15, failed again to advance toward a mutually acceptable political and legal solution. Estonia renewed its offer to drop claims to approximately 2,000 square kilometers of land which were annexed to the Russian Federation following the Soviet occupation of Estonia-in violation of the 1920 Tartu Treaty in which Russia had recognized Estonia’s independence and the mutual border. Today, the Estonian government proposes to recognize the present border, if Russia recognizes the never-denounced Tartu Treaty as valid–as it is recognized in international law. But Russia’s delegation continued to refuse that recognition at the round of talks which ended yesterday. Russia’s chief delegate Vasily Svirin said again that the Tartu Treaty is only an historic document. A new round of talks is planned for late December in Moscow. (6)

Estonia’s goal is Russian recognition of Estonia’s uninterrupted independence, and thus of the illegality of the 1940 Soviet occupation. Russia would then lose much of its ability to pressure Estonia with regard to the status of Russians there, disputed property, and other issues. Some Russian officials have continued, even after 1991, to claim that the Soviet occupation of the Baltic States was legitimized by plebiscites. Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman Gregori Karasin on November 14 urged Estonia to naturalize en masse the Soviet-era settlers on the basis of a Russian-Estonian treaty from January 1991, signed when Estonia was still within the USSR and which spoke of Soviet citizenship.

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