Ansip backs Britain

  • 2008-01-17
  • By Mike Collier
TALLINN 's EstonianPrime Minister Andrus Ansip has condemned the actions of the Russian government in its attempts to shut down offices of the British Council in Russia.

"What iscurrently happening in Russia with the British Council is notacceptable to the civilised world," he said.  

ThePrime Minister gave recognition to the role of the British Council in spreading the English language and British culture over the world, andnoted that every host country where the council is operating benefitsfrom it. "Estonia has received a lot of help via the British Council,from which Estonians and Russian-speaking residents of Estonia havebenefited," he noted.


Accordingto the Prime Minister, the sanctions applied against the BritishCouncil in Russia will be detrimental mainly to Russians eager to study British culture and language.


AndrusAnsip expressed his regret that the behaviour of Russia towards theBritish diplomats has been in contravention of both internationalcommunication principles and practice. "The fact that the BritishAmbassador has been persecuted for a long time, and his actionshindered by the Nashists, is consistent neither with diplomaticetiquette or the Vienna Convention."

 Andrus Ansip has notified the British Prime Minister Gordon Brown of the Estonian position as well.

Russian authorities say that British Council offices in the country are operating illegally and do not have the necessary licences and other paperwork to carry out their activities. The British government denies this, saying that the British Council conforms to international norms with regard to cultural institutions.

Protestors have recently picketed both the Estonian and British embassies.