TALLINN - Russia must drop stereotypes dating from the czarist period vis-a-vis Estonia and Latvia, Chris Patten, the commissioner responsible for external relations in the outgoing European Commission, said last week while speaking before the foreign affairs committee of the European Parliament.
Patten's remarks came in answer to a question by the vice-chairman of the committee, Toomas Hendrik Ilves, concerning the problems the two Baltic states have in concluding border delimitation treaties with Russia.
The commissioner refrained in his reply from giving any direct advice to Estonia and Latvia. He said the European Commission cannot be blamed for shunning forceful action and outspokenness in these matters, adding that otherwise the European Union could not have concluded with Russia agreements on Kaliningrad or extension of the partnership accord to new member states of the bloc.
Patten also stressed it was extremely important for Russia to understand that the republics that once were part of the Soviet empire are now independent states.
Ilves still criticized the European Union, saying that the Baltic states were at first given to understand a border treaty with Russia was a prerequisite necessary for their entry into the EU, but after both countries had unilaterally ceded territories to Russia the bloc let the issue sink into oblivion.
Ilves hinted at the incompetence of the European Commission, noting that the head of the commission's external relations directorate, Eneko Landaburu, recently expressed the opinion that ratification of the border treaty was stuck because of the inefficiency of the Russian State Duma (lower house of Parliament), whereas in reality the Russian government has not even endorsed the documents.