Savisaar Equates Free Will with Military Pressure, Paet Says ({{commentsTotal}})

Foreign Minister Urmas Paet hit back at comments of Tallinn Mayor Edgar Savisaar, who said that Crimea becoming a part of Russia was irreversible.

“It is very disturbing that one of the leading politicians in Estonia tries to find justification for Russia's aggression against Ukraine and the annexation of Crimea. It is a violent changing of the border of a European country and it cannot be accepted,” Paet said in a statement released by his Reform Party today.

“It is also impossible to talk about the referendum in Crimea as the expression of the free will of the people. Which free will are we talking about when the military of another country is present? And that is how that so-called referendum was carried out, in violation of Ukrainian laws. It is all the more strange to hear justifications after the fact from an Estonian politician for these illegal activities,” Paet said.

Savisaar, head of Reform Party's political rival Center Party, told ERR radio on Wednesday that the loss of Crimea was irreversible.

"The referendum was legitimate enough to believe in it," he said when pressed about the March vote. "Let's be brave and take these things seriously."

This is not the first controversial comment by Savisaar on the subject of Ukraine. In early March, he said the new Ukrainian government was formed by thugs and lacks legitimacy. This led to a rift with high-ranking fellow party members, who publicly distanced themselves from his comments.