Estonian parlt adopts statement on Russia

  • 2021-02-15
  • BNS/TBT Staff

TALLINN - The Estonian parliament on Monday adopted a statement in support of the common foreign policy of the European Union and in defense of the civic freedoms in Russia.

The statement of the Riigikogu that had been submitted by 57 MPs was adopted in the 101-seat chamber by a vote of 62 to three and one neutral vote, spokespeople for the Riigikogu said.

The chairman of the Riigikogu foreign affairs committee, Marko Mihkelson, said that the focus of the statement is on two topics.

"Both of them, meaning the state of play concerning the common foreign policy of the European Union and the repressive actions of the power structures of Russia in suppressing the freedoms on their own citizens, have a critical significance for the security of Estonia, our immediate neighborhood, but also the Western world more broadly," Mihkelson said.

He said that the democratic western world cannot remain a spectator when it comes to the suppression of civic freedoms in a member state of the Council of Europe, which Russia has been since 1996, for which systematic and extensive repressive force is used.

"The future of Russia will be decided by the citizens of Russia. It is not our business to tell them what their choice must be. But we cannot and must not remain indifferent when, as a member state of the Council of Europe, Russia has consistently ignored its international obligations in ensuring the freedoms and rights of its own citizens. All the more so when this has been accompanied by increasing aggressiveness in foreign policy and apparent all-permissiveness in diplomacy," Mihkelson said.

Mihkelson said that relations between the European Union and Russia are at their historic low at the moment.

"The initiators of the statement by the Riigikogu are convinced that the interests of Estonia and the other member states in key global issues are better protected when the European Union observes the principle of strong consensus in the formation of the common foreign policy and bases itself on the democratic values that are the mainstays of the community," the Reform Party MP added. 

The following is the full text of the statement:

"The Riigikogu emphasizes that the European Union Common Foreign Policy has been set up to protect the interests of the Member States in international relations, proceeding from our common democratic values.

The Riigikogu firmly believes that the interests of Estonia as well as the other Member States in major global issues are better protected when the European Union follows the principle of strong consensus in shaping its Common Foreign Policy.

The Riigikogu stresses that in relations with Russia, it is particularly important to maintain clarity and remain true to our principles when discussing difficult topics, and that the European Union institutions must draw serious conclusions from the recent visit to Moscow of the European Union High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Josep Borrell, which fell short of these requirements.

The Riigikogu calls on the Member States of the European Union to bring their policies regarding Russia up to date, in light of the authoritarian developments in Russia over the recent years and the country’s aggressive tendencies in foreign policy.

The Riigikogu believes that the European Union must cooperate closely with the United States of America, the United Kingdom, and other Western democracies in shaping its policy regarding Russia.

The Riigikogu maintains that a practical and mutually respectful dialogue with Russia is only possible if Russia respects its international commitments and abandons its aggressive foreign policy that undermines the territorial integrity of its neighbors.

The Riigikogu evokes the commitments undertaken by Russia upon its accession to the Council of Europe in 1996, including the commitment to protect democracy and the rule of law, to implement the decisions of the European Court of Human Rights, and to ensure human rights and freedom of the media to its citizens.

The Riigikogu condemns the violence of Russia’s law enforcement authorities against its own citizens who have protested against corruption and have demanded that their constitutional civic freedoms be guaranteed.

The Riigikogu demands the liberation of the people detained in peaceful protests in Russian cities or arrested for expressing their opinions, including Alexei Navalny and the other political prisoners.

The Riigikogu urges the Member States of the European Union to strengthen the sanctions at the international level, with the objective of putting actual pressure on Russia to respect its international commitments.

The Riigikogu encourages the Member States of the European Union to support and defend the civil society in Russia."