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Estonia, Russia Sign Border Treaty

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Estonian Foreign Minister Urmas Paet has signed the the much-awaited border treaty with Russia in Moscow on Tuesday, although both Parliaments must also ratify the document.

Paet, and his Russian counterpart, Sergei Lavrov, have signed three documents, of which two regulate the border between the two nations and the third moderates their embassies.

The wording, and the new border, is similar to the 2005 treaty, which was signed but not ratified, except an addition to the sea-border preamble in which both sides relinquish territorial claims against the other state, and a sentence highlighting that the treaty only regulates state border matters.

The treaty will come into effect 30 days after both parliaments have ratified the document.

On the border, 128.6 hectares of land, roughly the size of Tallinn's Old Town, and 11.4 square kilometers of lakes will be swapped.

Estonia will gain a boot-shaped piece of land near Värska, which currently belongs to Russia but has a road cut through it used by Estonians, although it is not allowed for people driving through to stop.

Amendments will also be made on Peipsi lake to make life easier for fishermen.

Third attempt

Negotiations on a border treaty began in the early 1990s, with Prime Minister Andres Tarand stating Estonia was ready to make compromises in 1994. A treaty delegation was formed at the start of 1996 to negotiate with their Russian counterparts.

The two delegations reached an agreement in October of 1996, and the Estonian government authorized Riivo Sinijärv, the foreign minister, to sign the document a month later, but talks broke down.

Talks began again in 1999, culminating on May 18 when the two foreign ministers, Paet and Lavrov, signed the treaty in Moscow. Estonian Parliament ratified the document a month later, with the President also giving his approval at the end of June.

On September 6, Russia said that they would not sign the document as the draft law on the new treaty ratified by the Estonian Parliament cited the Treaty of Tartu, a peace and border treaty signed in 1920 between Estonia and Russia which recognized the independence of Estonia.

Parliamentary parties in Estonia and the Foreign Affairs Committee petitioned the government to reopen negotiations in 2012. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs duly opened talks with Russia.

The Estonian Parliament approved the text of the treaty on May 23 in 2013 and Russian President Vladimir Putin instructed the country's Foreign Ministry to sign the treaty in October.

In mid-January, Lavrov told Paet that Russia was now ready to sign.

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