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Russian foreign ministry, embassy, attack border treaty comments

Russian foreign ministry spokesperson Maria Zakharova.
Russian foreign ministry spokesperson Maria Zakharova. Source: TASS/Scanpix

Comments on determining the Estonian-Russian border along the lines of the 1920 Tartu Peace Treaty are both unacceptable and provocative, according to the Russian Federation's foreign ministry.

"These provocative verbal attacks, which in fact contain territorial claims on Russia, are absolutely unacceptable,'' Russian foreign ministry spokesperson Maria Zakharova said, BNS reports, quoting Interfax.

''Far from everyone in Estonia is apparently interested in establishing normal and good neighborly dialogue with our country. On the contrary, the desire to spoil any positive things taking shape in the bilateral relations, is obvious," Zakharova went on, responding to a question placed by journalists on the ministry's website, it is reported.

Neither Interfax nor Zakharova named names regarding the statements.

Ratification at the Riigikogu of a treaty on Estonia's eastern border with the Russian Federation dates back to 2005. Many of the holdups reportedly come from the Russian side, with the Russian parliament, the Duma, playing a key role, amid accusations of ''Russophobia'' on the part of Estonia.

Nevertheless, the first reading of the bill on ratifying the border treaty passed at the Riigikogu in November 2015.

The 1920 Treaty of Tartu signed between the newly-independent Estonian Republic, and the fledgling Soviet Russian state, contained a border demarcation which includes territory now in the Russian Federation, principally beyond the south-eastern border of present-day Estonia and including the former Estonian town of Petseri, now Pechory, in Russia (likely the "territorial claims on Russia" to which Zakharova was referring).

When Estonia became independent in 1991, following the occupation of Estonia by the Soviet Union during and after World War II, the border looked somewhat different from how it had in the Tartu treaty.

Coalition politicians recently to have spoken on the matter include leader of the Conservative People's Party of Estonia (EKRE) Mart Helme, who said last week that the border ratification was contingent on a recognition of the Tartu treaty by Russia.

However, earlier in the week an EKRE MP, Ruuben Kaalep, had told ERR that the coalition agreement signed by the three parties included a clause which would put bringing the treaty ratification on ice, something which Enn Eesmaa (Centre), chair of the foreign affairs committee, said was news to him.

Estonian politicians' stances on issue

Meanwhile, foreign minister Urmas Reinsalu (Isamaa) said something slightly different, namely that the coalition agreement does not make any reference to the treaty.

For his part, Prime Minister Jüri Ratas (Centre) recommended exercising a bit of realpolitik in the matter.

These machinations may have prompted the placing of the question which Zakharova then went on to ask.

"Some mess is probably still taking place in Tallinn in connection with the start of work of the new government [in Estonia]; electoral campaign passions, which are meant only for domestic consumption, did not fade away. We are ready to wait and hear soberer assumptions," she added.

Meanwhile, the Russian Embassy in Tallinn tweeted Wednesday that the 1920 treaty was a document from history.

''The Tartu treaty has long belonged to history. Its action, as well as other international agreements, which had existed, including with Soviet Russia in the period of 1920-1940, ceased on Aug. 6 1940, after entering into the structure of the Soviet Union. This theme is forever closed for us,'' the tweet read.

Former chair of the Riigikogu foreign affairs committee Marko Mihkelson retweeted the embassy's post, commenting that it was: "Total nonsense. Don't forget that you do honor our Independence Day from Feb. 24, 1918."

Interfax is a privately-held, independent major news agency in Russia.

President Kersti Kaljulaid met with her Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin, in Moscow in April.

Editor: Andrew Whyte

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