Estonian Foreign Minister ToomasIlves told his parliament yesterday that their country “has done everythingshe could do” to sign the border agreement with Russia. The issue is nolonger a high priority for Estonia at this time, Ilves said, since thestalemate does not obstruct Estonia’s accession talks with the EuropeanUnion. At the same time, he advocated abolition of double taxation ofEstonian goods by Russia in order to improve bilateral economic relations.In the same address, delivered during a parliamentary review of foreignpolicy, Ilves called for redoubling financial and political efforts, inconjunction with Latvia and Lithuania, to join NATO. (BNS, June 11)
Ilves’ predecessor Siim Kallas and Russian Foreign Minister Yevgeny Primakovinitialed the border agreement in November 1996 after Estonia acceptedMoscow’s demands: to exclude a reference to the 1920 Tartu peace treaty, inwhich Russia had recognized Estonia’s independence and borders; and to dropany claim to the Petseri district, which the USSR took from Estonia andattached to the Russian Federation after occupying Estonia. Nevertheless,Primakov’s ministry continually postpones the signing, on the pretext thatthe agreement requires appendixes of a technical nature which need to benegotiated separately. It also conditions the signing of the borderagreement on the resolution of unrelated ethnic issues. Moscow calculatedthat the unsettled situation would obstruct Estonia’s path to the EuropeanUnion and other organizations.
UKRAINIAN COAL STRIKE UPDATE.