HELSINKI - Finnish President Tarja Halonen and Russian President Vladimir Putin made evident their difference of opinion regarding the Baltic during the latter's visit to Helsinki this week. Halonen stressed that Baltic-Russians would not become an issue during Finland's EU presidency next year, the Finnish STT news agency reported.
Speaking at a joint press conference, Halonen said that Estonian and Latvian legislation on the question of Baltic-Russians is in line with international requirements. She pointed out that both the Council of Europe and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe had confirmed this. She also expressed the opinion that the border treaties of Estonia and Latvia with Russia have to be ratified.
Putin, however, sharply criticized Estonia and Latvia's citizenship policy and the concept of noncitizens.
The Russian news agency Interfax reported Putin as saying that the terms citizen, foreigner, stateless person, or person of dual citizenship, are used in civilized countries. "But our partners in the Baltic countries have invented something new 's noncitizen," he added. "Such a thing does not exist in any modern legal system."
He said that even the term alien was used in some documents in the Baltic countries. "We regard this as absolutely impermissible and in contradiction with modern standards, including those used in the EU," he said.
In response, Halonen said that she regarded it as normal for a country to establish certain requirements for the granting of citizenship. "It is in agreement with international legal standards," she said.