Today, as was reported in the stunningly accurate Russian propaganda news services of MosNews and RIA Novosti, Paet was denied a visa to visit St. Petersburg to address a roundtable on cross-border cooperation organized by the St. Petersburg Center for International Cooperation. [Blog note - they are propaganda mouthpieces as they ran the same exact story]
The explanation, according to RIA Novosti, was bad blood.
On September 2, the Russian Foreign Ministry commented on a Baltic News Service report regarding "a number of tactless remarks about Russia" by Paet. The ministry said he had "deliberately twisted the facts and substituted the object of criticism" in comments about Russian xenophobia in the central republic of Mari El, which has a significant ethnic Mari population.
"As far as Paet's assessments of the situation in Mari El and the position of the Ugro-Finnish peoples in Russia are concerned, it is difficult to comment upon this. Not only does the opinion of Urmas Paet not correspond to reality, but even some of the members of Estonia's Cabinet of Ministers do not share it either," the ministry said.
According to the same article, there was also some heavy-handed bureaucracy involved.
A spokesperson for the Russian Embassy in Tallinn said Paet was not issued a visa because the proper diplomatic procedures had not been followed.
"The Russian Embassy received an official visa request from the Estonian Foreign Ministry two days prior to the forum, and we would have been able to issue it only if we violated all the existing norms for the proper reception of high-ranking foreign officials," Irina Pavlova said.
Here's some more from Regnum:
As the embassy officials noted, the current Russian laws on high official (that includes Foreign Ministers) welcome presume that a high guest must be invited by the corresponding Russian organization that can provide transport, communication and security. In the case of Paet, no such invitation existed, and the Russian party could not provide the head of the Estonian Foreign Ministry with an appropriate welcome. Moreover, the organizers invited representatives of the Estonian Foreign Ministry, not the minister himself. To all other Estonian representatives, who received invitations to the conference in Saint-Petersburg, visas have been granted.
Oh, what can I say? This sort of just shows how draconian things run in Russia. Urmas gets to fly all over the European Union thanks to his latest stint in government. One day he's in Scotland, the next day France, the next week Denmark. It's all the same. Maybe he forgot that something like his visit would take months of preparation to choreograph properly.
Russia is not Europe, Urmas. It is like China. Imagine you are dealing with the Chinese, and you will be able to deal with the Russians. Suspend your belief in facts, reality, reason. Then perhaps you will gain some traction in your Russian policies.
Instead Urmas is now a bit upset. The Estonian Foreign Ministry quoted him as saying..
"This is disappointing... This [decision] has shown that Russia is not interested in relations with Estonia."
And the regional affairs minister Jaan Õunapuu has also declined to attend the conference. Being less important, Õunapuu was granted a visa.