Politicians Weigh In on Border Treaty

President Toomas Hendrik Ilves Photo: Postimees/Scanpix
2/18/2014 5:00 PM
Category: Politics

The Estonian President and Prime Minister welcomed the signing of the border treaty with Russia on Tuesday, but other prominent public figures remain more reserved.

“A border agreement between neighboring countries is something normal and self-evident in the European Union,” President Toomas Hendrik Ilves said in a press release today, adding that the treaty does not affect the legal continuity of Estonia, citing a section in the Estonian Constitution, which says that the land border of Estonia is determined by Tartu peace Treaty […] and other international border agreements.

Prime Minister Andrus Ansip said the agreement increases stability and security in the region, adding that Tuesday's signatures are the fruit of a long process, as all governments, beginning with Andres Tarand in the 1990s, have tried to finalize the treaty.

Andres Herkel, a ex-IRL MP who is currently setting up his own political party, said the agreement was rushed, adding that it remains unclear why the Estonian side was in such a hurry to get the document signed.

Marko Mihkelson, the Chairman of the Parliament's Foreign Affairs Committee, who debated Herkel on the event Tuesday, said it has taken two years of negotiations to add two sentences to the treaty, and he would not call that rushed.

Herkel said he fears Russian interpretations of the treaty that may surface later, adding that Russia is only yet to sign a border treaty with Norway and Japan, and Estonia was in a position to demand something in return for its signature.

Mihkelson said the treaty is a solved problem and the more such problems are solved, the less likely it is that provocative situations arise in the future.

University of Tartu political scientist Karmo Tüür said the treaty will not change Russia's attitude of superiority towards Estonia, but a signed treaty is more useful to Estonia than an unsigned one.

He said the treaty will open the doors to signing other agreements with Russia.

The head of the Estonian Foreign Policy Institute Lauri Mälksoo said that although there is no mention of the Treaty of Tartu, Russia could in the future admit to violating the treaty in 1940.


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