Lavrov Non-Committal on Border Treaty Signing Place, Plan for Russian Schools in Baltics Floated (2)
At an annual press conference in Moscow recapping 2013, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov today sent signals that the signing of the border treaty with Estonia is still far from a fait accompli.
"Regarding the border treaties on the delimitation of land and water territory, the matter has been completely agreed. Now we're holding discussions on a place and date to sign the document," Lavrov told media.
Previous indications were that Estonia was working toward a signing in Tallinn. In June, Estonian Foreign Minister Urmas Paet invited Lavrov to Estonia. The Estonian Foreign Ministry withheld comment on whether Lavrov had responded to the invitation officially, uudised.err.ee reported, but confirmed that discussions were under way.
At the press conference, Lavrov also spoke of a new plan to agree with the Baltics on establishing schools for Russians in what Russia has termed the "near abroad."
"We have approval at the Cabinet level and soon the implementation of the 'Russian school abroad' project will begin," Interfax quoted Lavrov as saying.
"We will conclude agreements for establishing, at our expense, schools, not only in the Baltics but in other neighboring countries where Russians live."
"We want this to happen soon," he said. "Still, not everything depends on the Foreign Ministry."
The Estonian Education Ministry said they had not been approached. "Estonia has a well-functioning school network, including basic schools for Russian-speaking students," said Irene Käossaar of the general education department. "Russia hasn't made any proposal to Estonia and thus it isn't possible to comment on the Russian government decision further."
There was no indication that the schools plan was linked to the border treaty.