Estonian PM voices opposition to proposed EU-Russia summit

  • 2021-06-25
  • BNS/TBT Staff

TALLINN - Estonian Prime Minister Kaja Kallas said that she finds it incomprehensible what the proposal by German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Emmanuel Macron to hold an EU-Russia summit was based on, public broadcaster ERR reports.

The prime minister said that such a summit should not be held unless Russia starts respecting international law and fulfilling the obligations taken under the Minsk agreements.

"We were planning to discuss Russia rather briefly; however, some member states have now proposed to hold a high-level meeting with the Russian leader, which is something we have not discussed before," Kallas said on Thursday in Brussels, where she had arrived for the European Council meeting.

"Thus, I am very eager to hear what's changed and what Europe's objectives are as well as how we can proceed in such a way considering that Russia's behavior has not changed -- in fact, it is more aggressive than ever before -- and what the benefits of such meetings are," Kallas said in a statement made in Estonian.

"Personally, I do not deem this the right time for such summits because the conditions we set in 2014 [after the annexation of Crimea from Ukraine - ed.] have not been fulfilled," Kallas said, answering questions from journalists in English.

"The European Union's relations with Russia cannot improve unless Russia respects international law and fulfills the obligations taken under the Minsk agreements," Kallas said later in a statement sent to ERR.

"Sadly, we see that Russia has not changed its behavior and is instead becoming increasingly aggressive against its neighbors and member states of the EU, including in the cyber space and at spreading disinformation. For that reason, I am of the opinion that we need to continue with the current policy agreed in the European Union until Russia changes its behavior, which is why I deem the EU holding a summit with President Putin neither right nor justified," the Estonian premier said.

Kallas pointed out that at the previous meeting of EU leaders, "an excellent open discussion was held on Russia."

"We all agreed that Russia is a considerable and growing threat to the European Union and that it is becoming increasingly aggressive," she said.

Kallas also highlighted the visit of the EU's foreign policy chief Josep Borrell to Moscow at the start of this year.

"The outcome of this visit was not very positive for the European Union," she said.

When asked about the impact of sanctions on Russia, Kallas said: "Our intelligence says that the sanctions are working. The European Union needs to be more patient regarding the impact of sanctions, we have to have strategic patience."