Foreign Ministry: Russia wants to move forward with border agreement

Estonian-Russian border ratification agreement on February 18, 2014.
Estonian-Russian border ratification agreement on February 18, 2014. Source: Välisministeerium

Russia seems to want to move forward with ratification of the Estonian-Russian border agreement, officials at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said after a meeting between the two countries this week.

Undersecretary of the Foreign Ministry Rein Tammsaar, who attended the meeting, said: "The discussion was businesslike and brisk. It gave the impression the Russian side has the political will and readiness to move forward with the ratification process of the border agreements."

In April, during the first telephone call between Russian and Estonian foreign ministers for five years, Sergei Lavrov said Estonia must refrain from referring to the Tartu Peace Treaty of 1920 when ratifying the agreement. The agreement struck in 2014 should be the basis for ratification.

Tammsaar said Russia still holds this view.  

"The inclusion of possible unilateral political statements or declarations during the ratification process will lead to a halt in the whole process," he said.

The meeting on Wednesday was the first between Russia and Estonia for over two years.

Topics such as culture, cross-border cooperation, the protection and sustainable use of transboundary waters and advancing people-to-people contacts were discussed.

Asked if Estonia is looking to improve relations between the two countries, foreign ministry spokesperson Kristina Ots told ERR News: "Estonia is interested in good relations with all its neighbors. We need to communicate and talk to each other, despite our differences."

Former foreign minister: Discussions "absurd"

Urmas Reinsalu. Source: Siim Lõvi /ERR

Former Minister of Foreign Affairs Urmas Reinsalu (Isamaa) strongly criticized the meeting and its timing.

He called the discussions between Russia and Estonia "absurd" given the ongoing events on the Belarusian border and Russia's "obvious involvement".

"With such behavior, we are making a complete fool of ourselves in front of Moscow and our friends. The borders of our neighbors are being attacked, our borders may come under attack according to the media, and the Estonian state in an official statement praises ... cross-border cooperation with Russia?" the opposition politician said.

He said the statement was "a thing from the domain of the absurd."

Reinsalu was the foreign minister preceding Liimets between 2019-2021.  

Treaty of Tartu 1920

The original Treaty of Tartu briefly on public display at the National Archives of Estonia. February 2, 2017. Source: Aili Vahtla/ERR

After difficult negotiations, the peace treaty between the Republic of Estonia and Soviet Russia was signed on February 2, 1920.

The treaty ended the Estonian War of Independence that had lasted for nearly a year and a half, and was one of the first major achievements in the field of international relations for the young Estonian state.

The treaty established Estonia's eastern border, and Soviet Russia recognized the independence of the Republic of Estonia in perpetuity. The instruments of ratification of the treaty were exchanged in Moscow on March 30, 1920 and the treaty entered into force.

When Estonia regained independence in August 1991, it was not within the borders in which it was born in February 1920 as a subject of international law under the Tartu Peace Treaty, and in which it was occupied and unlawfully annexed by the Soviet Union in June 1940.

The topic has recently been raised again after Minister of Foreign Affairs Eva-Maria Liimets (Center) said in February that Estonia would again take steps to ratify the border.

ERR News previously republished International Center for Defense and Security's research fellow Kalev Stoicescu's article about the Estonian-Russian border agreement which gives an analysis and historical overview of the topic. 


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Editor: Helen Wright

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