By Vladimir Socor
Russia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs is artificially raising the anxiety level, charging that Latvia’s legal-continuity declaration amounts to “territorial claims” against Russia and violates the EU-Russia partnership and cooperation agreement. Moscow warns that it would not sign the Border Agreement unless Latvia withdraws the interpretative declaration. (Interfax, April 28, 29).
Estonia’s situation is somewhat similar to Latvia’s regarding the overdue signing of a bilateral border agreement with Russia. The Estonia-Russia border agreement was initialed in 1999, after Estonia had accepted to drop from the draft the items that Russia found objectionable. But Moscow has stonewalled the signing, for the same reasons as it did with Latvia, and using similar pretexts, despite Estonia’s insistence on having the document signed. On April 26, Estonia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs announced that it would welcome an invitation for Minister Urmas Paet to sign the treaty with his Russian counterpart on in Moscow on May 10; or, failing that, to sign it “any time, any place” (BNS, April 26). Paet’s immediate predecessor, Rein Lang, had spoken up in the same vein in recent months.
On April 27, Estonia protested against the violation of the country’s air space on April 23 by Russian Air Force planes. Registered by the Air Sovereignty Center at Amari, it was the fourth such incident since November 2004, and first in 2005. Most of these incidents — as well as earlier ones — have occurred over Estonian islands and involved Russian military planes en route to the Kaliningrad exclave. Estonian analysts regard these recurring incidents as part of a nerve-testing game, the probability of technical errors being extremely low. (BNS, Interfax, April 25-28)