Estonian foreign minister: It is important diplomacy is given a chance

Eva-Maria Liimets.
Eva-Maria Liimets.

Minister of Foreign Affairs Eva-Maria Liimets (Center) said diplomacy must be given a chance at the Russia-U.S. and Russia-NATO Council meetings due to take place this week.

Speaking after the Russia-U.S.A. meeting on Monday, Liimets told ETV's evening current affairs show "Aktuaalne kaamera" negotiations between the sides will continue over the coming week.

"In this context, it is important that diplomacy is given a chance and that dialogue continues," the minister, a former ambassador to the Czech Republic, said.

Liimets denied the U.S. has carried out the meeting and excluded Europe's point of view. "On the contrary, they have taken coordinated European decisions on all matters of European security," she said.

Asked to comment on U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman's comments about the location of armed forces and military exercises in Europe, Liimets said they are an "important part" of NATO's collective defense and "their continuation is important".

"As for the military exercises on the part of the Russian Federation, we have certainly seen here recently that there has been a lack of transparency, and if greater transparency can be agreed here, as well as adherence to it, it would certainly strengthen European security," the minister said.

Speaking about Estonia's message at the Russia-NATO Council meeting on Wednesday, she said a statement will be made.

"In our view, it is important to keep holding a dialogue with the Russian Federation, but, of course, in our view, it is also important for countries in Europe to respect the territorial integrity of other countries and to put an end to military activity in Europe," Liimets said.

On Wednesday, representatives from Moscow and NATO will meet in Brussels for the NATO-Russia Council and Russia will participate in the OSCE council meeting on January 13.

Estonia's ambassador to NATO Jüri Luik (Isamaa) said on Monday that nothing extraordinary will be decided at the meetings this week.

In recent months, Russia has massed approximately 100,000 troops on Ukraine's eastern border, leading some experts to believe a further invasion is likely early this year.

Additionally, last month, Russia issued a series of demands to the U.S. that NATO should roll back its presence on its Eastern flank, including in the Baltics, and block Georgia or Ukraine from joining the alliance in the future.

Analyst: Mafia-style intimidation, not diplomacy

Edward Lucas. Source: ERR

Center for European Policy Analysis (CEPA) Nonresident Senior Fellow Edward Lucas told ETV's weekly foreign affairs program "Välisilm" on Monday that Russia had won the first round of talks.

He said negotiations with Russia should not have been carried out based on an agenda it has set. "This is Mafia-style intimidation, not diplomacy," he said.

Speaking about negotiating with Russia, Lucas said there is "strategic clarity" from the countries on NATO's eastern flank, Ukraine, Finland and increasingly Sweden.

"The problem is when you go further west, and because we don't really know what we want we are not very good at negotiating with Russia," he said.

Discussions about arms control, democracy and human rights should be discussed, Lucas added.

The expert said a better response from the U.S.A and European institutions had been expected when Russia issued its demands last month.

"We could have expected moral and psychological leadership, which would have been welcome," he said.

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Editor: Helen Wright

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