Liimets: Border agreement debates overpoliticized

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Eva-Maria Liimets. Source: ERR

Debates surrounding the Estonia-Russia border agreement are overpoliticized, Minister of Foreign Affairs Eva-Maria Liimets said. She added that Estonia just wants legal clarity regarding its border.

Liimets said on the "Esimene stuudio" talk show that achieving the ratification of the border agreement is not her personal agenda as minister but the current government's policy.

"It was put back on the agenda in 2014. The government picked it up from there to put one Russian question to bed and make sure the border is set.

The minister said that Estonia needs the border agreement, while corresponding debates are overly politicized.

"What is noteworthy in the context of this agreement is that Russia is trying to suggest Estonia has gone back on the idea of the agreement according to which the countries have no territorial claims against one another. But we are talking about ratification now. The agreement has been signed, the boundary line laid down and what we're after is legal clarity. I would say that debates surrounding the agreement are overpoliticized. Estonia needs the treaty. I'm sure it will also benefit Russia to have a border agreement and set border with its neighbors. Progress needs to be made regarding this matter," Liimets said.

Putin's speech aimed at domestic audience

Russian President Vladimir Putin gave his annual speech on Wednesday in which he warned unfriendly states against harming Russian interests, noting that pressure on Moscow is becoming something "more dangerous" than just sanctions.

Liimets described the speech as aimed at the home audience.

"We concluded that it was aimed at the domestic listener, as was to be expected. Perhaps the only surprising aspect was Putin's strong focus on climate. But there was nothing new in the foreign policy part of the speech," the minister said.

Liimets offered that Moscow might be afraid of new sanctions, adding that while whether recent sanctions have been sufficiently deterrent is debatable, she believes they have kept Russia from ramping up aggression against its neighbors.

Liimets admitted that Russian troop buildup on the Ukrainian border is worrying as it will add to tensions in the region.

She added that the West must remain united in applying pressure with the purpose of achieving de-escalation.

The foreign minister found that it is too early to introduce any additional punitive measures right now and that positions should be explained first.

"Proposing restrictive measures is not always the first choice in this context. We are currently sticking with diplomatic measures. I visited Ukraine last week, alongside my Latvian and Lithuanian colleagues, to draw international attention to the situation and directly discuss with the Ukrainians what kind of international support they need. Estonia has been proactive in these matters," she said.

"I also made concrete proposals of how to increase EU pressure on the Russian Federation at the Foreign Affairs Council meeting on Monday. /.../ Concrete diplomatic measures. For example, to summon the Russian ambassador to explain the situation, send a clear message," the minister said.

"We need to repeat this message for it to be universally clear," she added.

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Editor: Marcus Turovski

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