Agreement in place not to ratify border treaty, says Ruuben Kaalep

Ruuben Kaalep (pictured) says the border treaty will not be up for ratification at the Riigikogu, as per a coalition agreement. Enn Eesmaa, chair of the foreign affairs committee, says it is news to him. Source: (Private collection)

Member of the Riigikogu's foreign affairs committee Ruuben Kaalep (EKRE) said Monday that the coalition talks involving his party, the Centre Party, and Isamaa, which led to the current coalition passing into being last month, included an agreement not to produce the border treaty with the Russian Federation for ratification by the Riigikogu.

The treaty, which dates back to 2005, has waited for ratification ever since, primarily being held up by the Duma, the Russian parliament, delays which Russia has blamed on, amongst other things, the phenomenon of ''Russophobia'' in Estonia (the first reading of the bill on ratifying the border treaty passed in November 2015).

Speaking on ERR's Vikerraadio show Välistund, Kaalep said that ''The ratification is not to happen; essentially, I would say, a victory for us (ie. his party).'' When pressed on the matter by journalist Indrek Kiisler, as to whether there was a concrete agreement that the ratification would not be presented to parliament, Kaalep answered: ''yes, you could say that.''

However, Enn Eesmaa (Centre), chair of the foreign affairs committee took a different view.

''I have not seen any such direct agreement,'' he told ERR, noting that the process will require time to develop and falls under the aegis of foreign minister, Urmas Reinsalu (Isamaa).

''At the presidents' meeting (when Estonian President Kersti Kaljulaid met with her Russian opposite number, Vladimir Putin, in Moscow in April), they spoke about the issue several times, which may have brought some clarity or perspective on it,'' Eesmaa went on.

''Of course, Estonia has always maintained its position, so there is no compromise in that sense,'' he added.

Enn Eesmaa went on to explain that the draft ratification of the treaty should be initiated by the government, which then passes it the foreign affairs committee which Kaalep sits on.

''The matter is being discussed and, as today's debate shows, there is a range of opinion on the matter. In the normal run of things, the foreign affairs committee has seldom voted on such issues. But as I see it, this new development could certainly see a vote,'' he said.

Ruuben Kaalep has also been made chair of a new Riigikogu body, the Freedom of Speech Support Group. 

Editor: Andrew Whyte

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