neljapäev, september 07, 2006

Bush and the Border Treaty

Bush is coming to Tallinn:
TALLINN, Estonia U.S. President George W. Bush will visit Estonia before a NATO summit in neighboring Latvia in November, Estonian officials and the White House said Thursday.

Bush will stop by the Baltic country on Nov. 28 for talks with Estonia's Prime Minister Andrus Ansip and President Arnold Ruutel, officials said.

Ruutel's office said the 78-year-old head of state invited Bush to visit the country of 1.3 million on his way to the NATO summit in Riga, Latvia, on Nov. 28-30. Estonia joined the alliance, as well as the European Union, in 2004.

The former Soviet republic is a close U.S. ally, with troops serving in Iraq and Afghanistan.

A White House statement said the president's trip would underscore NATO's role in "fostering a Europe whole and free."

It said the visit would highlight "new allies that have successfully transitioned to free-market democracies, contribute to the war on terror and offer lessons learned and expertise to others pursuing liberty."

The United States never recognized the incorporation of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania into the Soviet Union in 1940, and has kept close ties with the three countries since they regained their independence in 1991.

I am glad they referred to Estonia as a Baltic country rather than the dreaded "Baltic republic." Still, they managed to work "former Soviet" in there. It's also "former Swedish province of ..." too. I wonder if that was common in the eighteenth century...

Anyway, no matter what you think of him, Bush will be the first US president to visit Estonia. Clinton has been there, but not while he was in office. None of the presidents from Wilson through Roosevelt made it there the first time around.

What does it mean? The US is an important country of 300 million people. Bush is among the most high profile of world leaders. That's a lot of free publicity for a small northern European country.


In other news, Estonia and Russia are still at an impasse over that pesky border issue.

A deputy Russian foreign minister said Thursday that Russia insists on resuming negotiations on a border agreement with Estonia to avoid any future territorial claims.

Vladimir Titov said Russia was seeking further talks to prevent a situation when Estonia could make territorial claims against Russia using a border agreement that the two sides signed. Estonia ratified the agreement but Russia refused to follow suit after Tallinn inserted some new provisions.

"The problem is that they [Estonians] included provisions in the ratification law that can be seen as legally entitling them to make some territorial claims on us," Titov said.

The two countries signed border agreements on May 18, 2005, and the Estonian parliament ratified the documents on June 20, but with additional demands linked to the 1920 peace treaty between Soviet Russia and Estonia. On September 6, Russia notified Estonia that it was revoking its signature from the treaties because the 1920 document was no longer valid.

Titov said more than a month ago Russia had proposed including a provision "that all the previously signed agreements and treaties in bilateral history outlining the border line are invalid."

Estonia's basic position is that the preamble of the border treaty does not affect the border treaty's content and therefore there is no need for further border talks. Russia though, seemingly paranoid about land claims from Tiny Estonia, won't sign it. There are some undercurrents about the Tartu Treaty of 1920 and the Occupation - Russia says that the Tartu Rahu isn't valid and that the Occupation was a liberation - but aside from that I wonder who will have the good sense to put this thing to rest.

I could see, for example, Estonia passing a document that renounced its title to the land in the Tartu Peace Treaty of 1920 not covered in the current agreements. But, as Postimees pointed out in an editorial recently, who knows what displeases and pleases the Russians. Why should Estonia have to twist and turn so that Russia will sign its name to the border treaty. And now that Estonia is in the European Union and NATO, what difference does all this make?

6 kommentaari:

Estonia in World Media (Rus) ütles ...

Since Russian parliament lower house (Duma) attached a declaration to the extention of PCA (agreement between EU and Russia, 2004 giving, among other World-wide important things, free access to Russian markets for EU 10 countries), specifically mentioning in it Latvia and Estonia (guess the topic), I find it, based on principles of severeignty and equality (how is my face control working?) among states, that Estonia has all right to use the same approach to its international agreement with Russia, attaching a statement in ratification law. In plain words - Russia started bitching, we followed. And we don't have territorial claims. The best way to ruin Estonia finantially would be to return Jaanilinn/Petseri to her. With the inhabitants.

Anonüümne ütles ...

In other news the expansion of the Schengen visa treaty has been postponed from the fall of 2007 to atleast the fall of 2008. I'm sure it's not like that but the more you get news like this, you more you start to think that maybe they don't really want/need/like us. (for example the Euro also was postponed etc)

Jens-Olaf ütles ...

1994 the Baltics and United States paid a price for the withdrawl of Russian troops. Maybe a simple border treaty is too cheap for them. I hope there will be no more secret diplomacy before and during the Bush visit. This reminds of the the year 1994 when Bill Clinton came to visit Riga and the withdrawl of troops started soon afterwards.

Giustino ütles ...

I'm sure it's not like that but the more you get news like this, you more you start to think that maybe they don't really want/need/like us. (for example the Euro also was postponed etc)

The whole EU project is now in 'quiet mode' as businesses like to say. Last year was a really crappy year for the EU project, but, interestingly - most of the crap came from the French and the Dutch.

Confidence and decisiveness are lacking.

Giustino ütles ...

1994 the Baltics and United States paid a price for the withdrawl of Russian troops. Maybe a simple border treaty is too cheap for them.

The time is long overdue for them to let go. The border treaty is the last card Russia has to get Estonia to do anything it wants. Once it is signed and over, Russia will have one less avenue for bullying Estonia.

Jens-Olaf ütles ...

I cannot resist the thought: Bush senior knows Rüütel very well. It was their time. Argh, I want Lennart Meri back!