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Estonia and Russia sign border agreements

BC, Tallinn, 18.02.2014.Print version
Estonian Foreign Minister Urmas Paet and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov signed the Estonian-Russian border agreements on Tuesday in Moscow, LETA/Public Broadcasting reports.

Paet and Lavrov signed three agreements, two of which regulate the state border between Estonia and Russia and the third agreement concerns the conditions of the location of embassies.

 

The border agreement was signed in the Russian Foreign Ministry receptions' building in central Moscow, a historical building where the most festive diplomatic events held in Moscow take place.

 

Paet and Lavrov signed the border agreements there also in 2005 but then the agreement didn’t come in force because the Estonian Riigikogu added a reference to the Tartu Peace Treaty to the preamble of the ratification law of the agreement.

 

As compared to 2005, the wording of the border agreements has remained unchanged but the text has been supplemented with two sentences. With the first sentence, the sides confirm that the agreement regulates only issues concerning the state border and the second sentence confirms reciprocally the lack of territorial claims. The rest of the text is as it was signed in 2005.

 

Next, the texts of the agreements have to be ratified by the parliaments of both states, the agreements come in force 30 days after the day of exchange of ratification letters. Then the work to mark down the border line in nature will start.

 

The border talks between Estonia and Russia date back to the start of 1990s and in 1996, an official delegation for negotiations was formed in Estonia. The delegations agreed upon the main text of the border agreement in October 1996 for the first time and in November 1996, the government gave powers to the then foreign minister Riivo Sinijärv to sign them. The agreements were not signed though.

 

On March 5, 1999, heads of the delegations Raul Mälk and Ludvig Chizhov initialled the agreements with all extra materials and after that, different Estonian governments have constantly confirmed of readiness to sign the agreements.

 

The negotiations over the agreements continued till 2005, when Estonian Foreign Minister Urmas Paet and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov signed the border agreement between Estonia and Russia in May 2005. The Riigikogu ratified the agreement that summer but added a preamble that states that the new border agreement changes partly the state border line determined with the Tartu Peace Treaty of 1920 but won't affect the rest of the matters regulated by the treaty.

 

Less than a month later Russia announced that it will withdraw its signature from the border agreement claiming that the preamble that Estonia added enables to present territorial claims against Russia. Although Estonia repeatedly confirmed of having no territorial claims against Russia, the process was stalled for years, till last year, Estonian MPs asked the government to restart the negotiations.

 

Estonia and Russia re-launched border agreement consultations in October last year, the 2005 preamble was removed and a wording was found for the agreements that suited both sides.

 

The new border agreement stipulates that Estonia and Russia exchange 128.6 hectares of land and 11.4 square kilometres of Lake Peipsi on equal basis. Estonia gets the notorious "Saatse Boot" i.e. a boot-shaped slice of Russia-owned land in South East Estonia, containing an Estonian village and a section of a local road and will give to Russia 68.9 hectares in the Marinova forest and 33.9 hectares of land in the Grabilovo marsh.

 

Estonia signs the border agreements with Russia on Tuesday, and the agreements get ratified, the border line will have to be marked in nature, which could cost some 26 mln euros, LETA/Public Broadcasting reports.

 

The Police and Border Guard deputy director general on border guard issues Rando Kruusmaa said that officials of the two states will have to walk through the whole border and set it down in detail where exactly the border line would run on landscape. During the work, around 139 km of land border will have to be marked with border poles, a border ditch has to be dug and certainly there will be different pathways to border installations for patrol crews to move on.

 

On lakes and rivers, buoys will be installed and ship pathways will be marked.


The Border Guard board has an approximate cost for this work. "We took a price bid before the year 2010 on how much marking the border line could cost. At the then prices, it could be around 26 mln euros," estimated Kruusmaa.

 

Marking down the border will take several years.

 

Estonian President Toomas Hendrik Ilves welcomed on Tuesday the signing of the border agreements between Estonia and Russia.

 

"I welcome the signing of the border treaties between Estonia and Russia. A border agreement between neighbouring countries is something normal and self-evident in the European Union," Estonian President Toomas Hendrik Ilves said, as reported by the president's office. "Thus it is also normal that the consultations between Estonia and Russia, which were conducted in a professional and reasonable manner, were concluded today with the signatures of the Ministers of Foreign Affairs on the border treaties."

 

"I hope that the ratification of the border treaties by the parliaments of Estonia and Russia will be a quick and seamless process," said President Ilves.

 

"The border treaties between Estonia and Russia correspond to the letter and spirit of our Constitution and will not affect the legal continuity of the Republic of Estonia. Section 122 of our Constitution clearly states: the land border of Estonia is determined by Tartu Peace Treaty of 2 February 1920 and other international border agreements," said President Ilves.






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