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Ministers clash over Soviet occupation reparations question

Foreign Minister Marina Kaljurand said Estonia has no plans to demand damages from Russia over the 50-year Soviet occupation. After Kaljurand's statement, Justice Minister Urmas Reinsalu said Estonia's institutions have not decided whether to pursue reparations or not.

Commenting on a memorandum by the justice ministers of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania on cooperation to submit reparations demands to Russia, the legal successor to the Soviet Union, Kaljurand said the agreement was between justice ministers and the Estonian government has not discussed the topic.

“The Estonian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the government will not take any practical steps after that statement,” she told Russian news agent Interfax.

“The government of the Republic of Estonia and the Parliament have confirmed the existence of occupation damages and Estonia's right to a claim in the form of both an apology and compensation,” Reinsalu said after Kaljurand's words to Interfax.

Reinsalu said the Parliament decided in 2004 to ask the government to draw up a position on possible damages from the occupation. In 2005, the government handed its position to the Parliament, deciding to continue analyzing damage claims and prepare for claiming damages. Reinsalu said the government then tasked the justice and foreign ministries with preparing reparation claims.

“I stress that if the institutions of Estonia say the Estonian Republic has no possible claims to occupation damages, then according to international law, these statements are final and cannot be retracted. Such positions have not been formed by institutions of the state,” he said.

Reinsalu said the question on how Estonia finalizes its claims will have to be answered by a future government, adding that he thinks the question should be answered jointly by all Baltic nations together.

Editor: J.M. Laats

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