MOSCOW 's Estonian President Arnold Ruutel announced on Thursday that President Vladimir Putin is prepared to abrogate the Molotov-Ribbentrop pact of 1939 that carved up Eastern Europe and sealed the fate of the Baltics for over half a century.
Ruutel, who was in Moscow on an informal visit, said he told the Russian president that relations between Russia and the Baltic states would improve if Russia took a stance of the pact between the Soviet Union and Nazi Germany as the Supreme Soviet of the Soviet Union did in 1989.
"He [Putin] said that Russia as the legal successor to the Soviet Union supports annulling the pact and considers this the right thing to do," Ruutel said. "I believe it's very important for us and the Russian society to note that Russia has done this. This signals to the public at large that today's Russia condemns the consequences of the Molotov-Ribbentrop pact."
Ruutel also proposed at the meeting that a border treaty initialized almost six years be signed by the two countries' foreign ministers during Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov's visit to Estonia in the spring. He also said that the border treaty with Russia should not be tied to the political declaration proposed by Moscow or any other issue.
"I made it clear that this is a totally separate issue," he said. Putin, he added, agreed with this.
Meanwhile, the Postimees daily reported that Foreign Minister Kristiina Ojuland and Lavrov would sign the border treaty. "Putin agreed and said he would give a corresponding order to his Foreign Ministry," Ruutel was quoted by the newspaper as saying.
The subject of Ruutel's presence at the Victory Day ceremonies in Moscow on May 9 also arose, but the Estonian president remained cautious. However, a Russian-language news program hinted that Ruutel would attend the May 9 festivities if Moscow condemned the pact between Stalin and Hitler and recognized that because of it the Baltics lost their independence for five decades.
Latvian President Vaira Vike-Freiberga has already agreed to travel to Moscow, and Lithuania's Valdas Adamkus remains undecided.