Baltic president weigh visit to Moscow next May

  • 2004-12-01
  • By The Baltic Times
TALLINN - After meeting last week in Vilnius to discuss whether to go to Moscow on May next year for Victory Day celebrations, the Baltic president are at pains to come to a conclusion.

On Wednesday several Estonian politicians voiced the opinion that President Arnold Ruutel should not accept the invitation from Russian President Vladimir Putin.

"If I were in Ruutel's place, I wouldn't go," Sven Mikser, chairman of the parliamentary national defense committee, told the Postimees daily. "If going at all, it should be done on one's own terms, but for all this the other side should be more positive," he said.

For Russia the 60th anniversary celebrations are extremely important, as it wants to show the world the enormous sacrifice it made to defeat Nazi Germany. Putin has even suggested linking border agreements with the Baltics with the three presidents' consent to come to Moscow in May.

However, MP Marko Mihkelson, chairman of the foreign affairs committee, said that Russia's propaganda attacks were creating a negative backdrop that cast doubt on Ruutel's possible trip.

"The president is faced with a difficult choice of what would best correspond to Estonia's national interests," Mihkelson said. "My personal opinion is rather 'no' than 'yes.'"

Eiki Berg, who quit parliament a few months ago to become professor of international relations at Tartu University, said the president should not go to Moscow, the Baltic News Service reported.

"But an Estonian delegation should be there, led by parliamentary speaker Ene Ergma, for instance," Berg said. "That would be reasonable in order to avoid repercussions of the kind that happened with the Lihula monument, where our allies too are at difficulty understanding our past."

In November 100 deputies of the European Parliament, mainly from countries of Eastern Europe, signed an appeal to world leaders ask them to reconsider whether to participate in Russia's celebrations next year since they also mark the beginning of totalitarian rule for nearly half a century in many country.

Also, last week the Russian Duma lower house unanimously adopted a statement calling the recapture of the Baltic states in 1944 "a liberation." The head of the Estonian parliament's foreign affairs committee said that statements like this, made in the spirit of Cold War, were effectively making it impossible for Baltic presidents to attend the May 9 events in Moscow next year.