Russian politician condemns New Year's greeting border comments by Põlluaas

Chairman of the State Duma Committee on International Affairs Leonid Slutsky.
Chairman of the State Duma Committee on International Affairs Leonid Slutsky. Source: ERR

President of the Riigikogu Henn Põlluaas' (EKRE) comments regarding the 1920 Treaty of Tartu remaining valid undermine efforts to conclude a new border treaty, Chairman of the State Duma Committee on International Affairs Leonid Slutsky said on Thursday.

"Statements by the speaker of the Estonian parliament on the Tartu Peace Treaty regarding the Russian-Estonian border are incorrect and unacceptable," Slutsky wrote on Twitter.

The Duma committee chairman said that Põlluaas' words set Moscow and Tallinn back 15 years and undermine efforts to conclude a new border treaty.

"February 2 will mark the 100th anniversary of the signing of the Treaty of Tartu," Põlluaas said in a New Year's address broadcast on ETV on Wednesday. "The Tartu Peace Treaty meant that Russia recognized independent Estonia; it put an end to the War of Independence and settled the Estonian-Russian border. When we regained our independence, all countries acknowledged us as the legal successor to the Republic of Estonia with all its symbols, including the state border. The Tartu Peace Treaty remains in force and has been entered into the UN register of international treaties."

Estonia continues to wait on Russia

Estonia's then-Minister of Foreign Affairs Urmas Paet and Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov signed treaties on the land and maritime borders between Estonia and Russia in May 2005.

The Riigikogu passed the treaties in the following month after adding a preamble to the bill in which it was explained that in ratifying the border treaties, the Riigikogu had in mind that, in accordance with Article 122 of the Constitution, the border treaty would partly change the line of the state border as defined in the Tartu Peace Treaty of 1920 but would not affect the rest of the treaty and would not define the treatment of any bilateral issues not connected with the border treaties.

Russia, however, noted that it viewed the added preamble as opening the way to future territorial claims and withdrew its signature at the end of June that same year, despite Estonia having denied having territorial claims on Russia on repeated occasions.

Negotiations on the treaty between the two countries resumed in 2013, and the foreign ministers eventually signed the agreements in Moscow on Feb. 18, 2014.

As ERR has previously reported, in autumn 2015, then-Minister of Foreign Affairs Marina Kaljurand and Russian Minister of Foreign Affairs Sergey Lavrov reached an agreement that the two governments would submit the new border treaties to their respective parliaments for ratification.

On the Estonian side, the Riigikogu did so, where relevant bills passed their first reading in November 2015 already. Per common practice, the treaties would be ratified in both countries' respective parliaments simultaneously after they has also passed their first reading in the State Duma. On the Russian side, however, the Duma had yet to even begin the ratification process.

The treaties must be ratified by the parliaments of both countries, after which they will go into effect 30 days after the exchange of the letters of ratification.


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Editor: Aili Vahtla

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