Estonian MFA summons Chinese diplomat to explain sovereignty comments

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs summoned the Chargé d'Affaires to Estonia Meng Jianhua on Monday over comments questioning the sovereignty of former Soviet states and Crimea being part of Ukraine.

The comments were made by Chinese Ambassador to France Lu Shaye on Friday during an interview that questioned the sovereignty of former Soviet states and Crimea being part of Ukraine and drew heavy criticism.

After visiting the ministry, the diplomat told ERR that what Lu Shaye said was a misunderstanding and that Estonia is a sovereign country. "Yes, of course. Of course, an independent, sovereign country," he said.

Asked whether Crimea belongs to Ukraine, he said: "You can look at China's map. On China's map, Crimea is part of Ukraine."

Kristi Karelsohn, Director General of the Foreign Ministry's Department for Asia and the Pacific, Middle East and Africa, asked for an explanation from the chargé d'affaires.

She said even if it was the personal position of Ambassador Lu, he was nevertheless an official representative of China.

"We hope that representatives of China will refrain from expressing these kinds of opinions in the future," Karelsohn said in a statement.

"We believe it was a single incident and we hope it will not affect the relations of Estonia and China," she said, welcoming the public explanation of the spokesman of the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs today, stating that China's official position had not changed and the Chinese government recognized our status as a sovereign state." 

Minister of Foreign Affairs Margus Tsahkna (Eesti 200) called the claims of the Chinese ambassador to France false and reminded that according to international law, Estonia has been a sovereign state since 1918, and Chinese President Jiang Zemin declared this fact in a joint statement made with President Lennart Meri in 1994.

"China also reaffirmed the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine, which includes Crimea as part of Ukraine, in 1994 when it joined the Budapest Memorandum," Tsahkna added.

Estonia was occupied for almost 50 years, between 1940-1941 and 1944-1991, by the Soviet Union.

There were 15 Soviet republics, including the Baltics, Ukraine, Belarus, and Georgia.


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Editor: Helen Wright, Michael Cole

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