Põlluaas on border treaty sparks reactions from Kremlin and State Duma

Press representative for the Kremlin Dmitri Peskov
Press representative for the Kremlin Dmitri Peskov Source: TASS/Scanpix

The Kremlin has announced it disagrees with "Estonia's demand for the return of annexed territories."

That is how the Kremlin's press representative Dmitri Peskov commented on Chairman of the Riigikogu Henn Põlluaas' (EKRE) words concerning the Estonia-Russia border agreement and the Treaty of Tartu, TASS and Lenta report.

Peskov said that such demands are unacceptable.

The topic was previously broached by member of the State Duma's International Relations Committee Anton Morozov who said that Moscow has never annexed Estonia.

He said Estonia should pursue constructive relations with Russia that would benefit Tallinn. "Such statements are utterly devoid of perspective," Morozov said, commenting on the words of the Estonian speaker. He added that Estonia will realize in time that a nonconstructive approach cannot yield results.

Põlluaas: Estonia has no territorial claims for Russia

Chairman of the Riigikogu Henn Põlluaas said on Tuesday that Russia not recognizing the Treaty of Tartu fundamentally equals it not recognizing the Republic of Estonia. "It is the birth certificate of our country and one of the underlying pillars of our independence," Põlluaas wrote on Facebook.

"Demanding that Estonia drop territorial demands for Russia was equally arrogant. Estonia does not have any territorial claims against Russia. We do not want a single square meter of Russian soil. We just want ours returned. Russia has annexed ca 5 percent of the territory of Estonia," Põlluaas said.

"De facto are Russia's illegal claims against Estonia that are in violation of international law. The annexation of Estonian territories is in no way different from the occupation and annexation of Crimea. One simply happened decades before the other. The Estonia-Russia border is fixed in the Treaty of Tartu that is included in the UN's list of valid international agreements. Those are the borders in which countries recognized Estonia's restoration of independence. The border treaty can only be taken forward insofar as it includes Russia recognizing the Treaty of Tartu and the border marked therein," Põlluaas continued.

Põlluaas' statement sparked a comment from head of the Russian Foreign Ministry's Second European Department Sergei Belyayev to RIA Novosti. Belyayev said Russia expects Estonia to drop territorial demands before the ratification process can be taken forward.

Reinsalu: Estonia should not abandon Treaty of Tartu principles

Minister of Foreign Affairs Urmas Reinsalu (Isamaa) told Vikerraadio's Uudis+ program that Estonia should not surrender the principles of the Treaty of Tartu in the name of ratifying the border agreement with Russia.

Urmas Reinsalu said that there can be no doubt as to the validity of the Treaty of Tartu. Estonia's position is that the principle of Article 2 of the Treaty of Tartu is valid. It ties into the position of our illegal annexation, restoration of our national independence, as opposed to the creation of a new republic. That is the most conceptual understanding of our state, our past and relevant mutual relations," Reinsalu said.

Therefore, Reinsalu does not see the Riigikogu ratifying the border treaty any time soon, considering political conditions Russia is tying to the treaty.

Mihkelson: Ratas has dismantled border treaty consensus

Chairman of the Riigikogu Foreign Affairs Committee Marko Mihkelson (Reform Party) said on Tuesday that the government has conflicting approaches to the border treaty.

"The border treaty has been one of the most problematic aspects in Estonia-Russia relations for over 25 years. Until Jüri Ratas' current government with the Conservative People's Party (EKRE) we had a consistent position our allies were well aware of – it is in Estonia's interests to determine a border between Estonia and Russia without territorial claims from either side. Both countries confirmed as much by signing the border treaty on February 18, 2014. At the same time, Article 2 of the Treaty of Tartu has always been considered to be important – honoring Estonia's sovereignty in its perpetuity. To affirm this, the text of the 2014 border treaty was complemented in a way that does not violate Estonia's interests in connection with the principles of the Treaty of Tartu and the continuity of the state. Ratas' current government has dismantled this consensus that has in turn rendered our foreign policy toward Russia neurotic," he wrote on Facebook.

"Isamaa that is split over the border treaty issue and EKRE making territorial claims against Russia should be a serious headache for Ratas in terms of convincing allies that a NATO member is not in fact trying to pick a territorial fight with Russia," Mihkelson said.


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Editor: Marcus Turovski

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