Former Estonian Ambassador to Russia Warns Against Border Treaty ({{commentsTotal}})

Mart Helme, a conservative politician who served as Estonia's ambassador to Russia from 1995 to 1999, says signing a border treaty with Russia will give it grounds for new demands.

In an Estonian-language opinion piece penned for Estonian World Review entitled "Cynical Betrayal in Moscow's Interests," Helme said Estonia was removing a "firewall" that would lead to a next set of demands from Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov.

One such demand, according to Helme: blanket citizenship for all non-citizens and a stronger position for Russian language in schools in Estonia.

"We're giving the Russians a trump card for arguing that the [1920] Tartu Peace Treaty, in which Russia declared that it relinquishes all claims to Estonian territory, has become a mere historical document with no legal value," said Helme.

Helme said the reasons for the new border treaty, which did not come up as an issue as Estonia integrated with NATO and EU, are murky.

"What is the point of giving up all this? A new border treaty, which Russia will violate without thinking twice about it, if the geopolitical situation so allows?"

Helme said while Estonia had a neighbor with a "might makes right" attitude, Estonia itself was responsible for the concessions. "Russia has not needed to administer a beating in the case of the border treaty. We did it ourselves, just like in 1939. Our reward? A kick in the teeth and spit in the face when [Estonian Foreign Minister] Urmas Paet puts his signature on this treachery and writes another chapter in the national surrender book on the eve of Independence Day."

The border treaty is scheduled for signing on February 18. While many see it as a formality, it remains controversial because it legitimizes the postwar situation, ceding to Russia territory that was annexed by Stalin in the late 1940s and which has been under Russian administrative control ever since.


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