MEP Madison: Estonian, Finnish territorial waters should be restored to maximum breadth

  • 2023-12-29
  • BNS/TBT Staff

TALLINN – Citing the threat originating from Russia, Estonian MEP Jaak Madison has sent a letter to Finnish Foreign Minister Elina Valtonen, asking whether it would be possible to restore the maritime border between Estonia and Finland as per the international law of the sea, according to which the maximum breadth of a country's territorial sea is 12 nautical miles.

In the letter, Madison points out that in 1995, after the collapse of the Soviet Union, many countries had a sincere desire and belief that Russia was about to become a well-wishing neighbor with whom friendly relations could be developed.

"Although it was a largely naive belief, out of step with the long experience of previous centuries, it was still a humanly understandable belief. One of the signs of this goodwill and belief was the agreement between Estonia and Finland, whereby both countries moved their maritime borders three nautical miles closer to their coasts to create a six nautical mile wide corridor of international waters," the MEP said.

According to Madison, the main beneficiary of this move was Russia, for which access to the Baltic Sea opened up without Russia having to ask for  permission to move its warships through the Gulf of Finland.

"Unfortunately, in the situation of war, Russia has begun to take much greater advantage of the benefit of international waters, for example, to maintain a connection between the mainland and Kaliningrad and to move naval assets between the Baltic Sea, the North Sea and the Black Sea. Russian military and state ships alike now sail in the six-mile-wide canal in the Gulf of Finland without transponders, as do its planes, often creating dangerous situations, since in poor visibility it is not possible to spot a ship or plane without a transponder early enough," Madison said.

Furthermore, to avoid entering the territorial waters of Estonia or Finland, Russian ships often move in the oncoming traffic portion of the shipping lane, thereby increasing the risk of collision even more, the MEP added.