Foreign minister: Lavrov letter contained nothing new

Minister of Foreign Affairs Eva-Maria Liimets (Center).
Minister of Foreign Affairs Eva-Maria Liimets (Center). Source: ERR

A recent letter from Russia's foreign minister Sergei Lavrov calling for EU and NATO member states to adhere to Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) principles, such as those on indivisibility, contained nothing new, foreign minister Eva-Maria Liimets (Center) says. The letter was sent to the foreign minister of various countries, including Estonia.

Liimets told ERR on Tuesday that: "It recapitulated how they see further dialogue and the talks had stalled on European security issues. There is nothing new about Russia's positions, and it simply repeated thoughts that have already been discussed in public for a long time."

Liimets said that the letter was also a test of unity. "This letter, together with a desire to receive separate answers from recipients, also indicated that it is a test of unity."

It is certainly very important that we respond and react in a unified manner. And Estonia has been dealing with it in those days. the answer is going on in those days," Liimets said.

"From Estonia's point of view, it is certainly very important that Europe's future security is based on the existing security foundations, which are: The Helsinki Final Act (1975) and the Paris Charter (1990), and the OSCE has a very important role to play in this context."

Liimets declined ERR's request to see Lavrov's original missal.

ERR reports that Finland's Foreign Minister, Pekka Haavisto said that Lavrov states in his letter that no country should increase its security at the expense of any other state's security, as a result of Moscow feeling threatened.

The letter from Lavrov arrived at the foreign ministries of various states, including Finland, Sweden and Norway, in addition to Estonia, and asked for written answers whether the recipients' governments would comply with the OSCE commitments not to strengthen their security at the expense of the security of others.

Russia is an OSCE member.

The letter opened with Russia's "serious concerns" on growing military-political tensions along its western borders – Russia has since late last year amassed an estimated 100,000 or more military personnel along with a significant volume of military equipment – and mentions Russia's proposals for security architecture in Europe, which Lavrov said Russia had previously sent to NATO and to the U.S., while the response of the latter demonstrate serious differences on the understanding of the principle of equal and indivisible security, a principle essential to Europe's security, Lavrov claims.

Politico reported last week that Lavrov had telegraphed the arrival of the letter in several interviews with Russian radio stations, requesting that the U.S. and other western powers explain their position on the principle of "indivisibility" in Euro-Atlantic security in the understanding of the OCSE's Istanbul Document of 1999.

Russia has repeatedly demanded NATO not only not further expand eastwards, but also roll back its current frontier to the status quo in 1997. Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania joined the alliance in 2004, Poland in 1999. All four countries border with the Russian Federation, while Poland borders with Ukraine and Belarus, and Latvia and Lithuania border with the latter.

Norway and Finland also share a border with Russia.


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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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