Paet: Estonia must be consistent in foreign policy

Urmas Paet (Juan Carlos Hidalgo/EPA)
10/8/2015 3:22 PM
Category: Politics

Urmas Paet, the former foreign minister and now a member of the European Parliament, said that solo act by IRL head Margus Tsahkna with regards to Estonian-Russian border treaty does not indicate a consistent and credible foreign policy.

IRL Chairman Margus Tsahkna said on Wednesday that the government must add a political declaration to the ratification of the Estonian-Russian border treaty, one that would point to the validity of the 1920 Treaty of Tartu.

Yet, the last time the two nations were close to ratifying a border treaty, Estonia added a political dimension to it by mentioning the Treaty of Tartu, leading to Russia pulling out. But Tsahkna said that IRL's idea is different this time, as last time the treaty text itself was changed.

“The Parliament has the opportunity to make a similar declaration. We are not going to change the border treaty as it is. The treaty clearly states it is just a treaty to mark a certain border,” Tsahkna said.

Paet said that Estonia “must be self-assured” – both in relation to its past as well as future, meaning that in order to retain credibility, it must behave in a predictable way and maintain consistency.
“We signed the treaty in 2014, after all Parliament parties, including IRL, proposed to the government to restore consultations with Russia, in order to find perspective for the ratification of Estonia-Russia border treaty,” Paet said in an article for Eesti Päevaleht.

He added that IRL endorsed the treaty text last year and gave its approval to send it for the ratification in the Parliament – process that then stalled due to elections in the spring.
Paet also said that there is no threat to Estonia's sovereignty, should the border treaty not point to the validity of the 1920 Treaty of Tartu.

“The risk has been evaluated repeatedly over the years. The party (IRL) which belongs to the government, should not express uncertainty and insecurity this way,” Paet said, adding that IRL should show consistency and trustworthiness, which are important in state affairs and in the government.

Estonia and Russia originally agreed on a border treaty in 2005, only for Estonia to add a clause on the Treaty of Tartu, which was signed between the two nations in 1920 to end Estonia's War of Independence. That treaty also established the border between the two nations.

Russia pulled out then and the treaty was again signed in 2014, but must be ratified by both parliaments before entering force.

On today's Cabinet meeting, the government didn't amend the treaty text and sent it to Parliament for the ratification. It did, however, add a paragraph about the Treaty of Tartu to the explanatory note that went with it.

S. Tambur

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