20 Years Ago: CIS Enlargement Was Point of No Return for Estonia
Twenty years ago today, eight republics joined the Commonwealth of Independent States, which is seen by one then-state official as the point of no return for newly reindependent Estonia.
Raivo Vare, who has served in a number of high state posts and who was then state minister, told ETV that when the USSR had formally recognized Estonia's independence on September 6,1991, there was still the question of what would become of the monolith and whether history could not be turned back.
The answer came on December 8, with a treaty signed between Russia, Ukraine and Belarus that paved the way for the creation of the CIS with the joining of eight other republics in Almaty on December 21.
"The importance of the Almaty protocol lies in the fact that the formal-technical possibility that the Soviet Union might in some way come back disappeared. This gave a sense of security," said Vare.
On December 25, 1991, Gorbachev resigned the presidency of the USSR and a day later the Soviet Union ceased to exist.
Vare says he agrees with the view that if Yeltsin had not been at the helm, things might have gone otherwise. "Yeltsin's personality was so strong and dominant [...], that he simply stood in opposition to the Soviet Union by his very nature. He simply in principle could not accede to it."
Vare recalled the Baltics' role as a civilization unto themselves under the Soviet rule.
Even within the CIS, which has been criticized for being a misnomer, Vare cited examples of reform areas with their own strong identity.
"It is completely clear that a wholly new center of civilization has developed in Central Asia. Russia itself, with Belarus attached to it, is completely different. In other words we see how artificial and multi-faceted the formation which was called the USSR was and which could only be kept together by force," said Vare.