TALLINN - President Toomas Hendrik Ilves may hold a back-room summit with the newly elected President of Russia, Dmitry Medvedev, as early as in June 2008, Foreign Minister Urmas Paet told reporters.
In his interview with Helsingin Sanomat, Urmas Paet noted a recent thaw between Russia and Estonia, whose relations remained cold in the aftermath of the Bronze Soldier monument row last year.
Paet remained cautious in his expectations, but he hopes for better things to come between the two nations once there is new adminstration. Paet told reporters that Ilves and Medvedev would have a chance to meet during the World Congress of Ugro-Finnish Speakers due to take place this June in Hanti-Mansijsk, Siberia.
Estonia has not yet received the official invitation to the Congress, but Paet cites Deputy Foreign Minister of the Russian Federation Titov who clearly stated that the invitation to Estonia is being prepared and will be received by Tallinn in due course. It must be noted, however, that no invitation was issued to Estonia for last year's Congress.
The largest Ugro-Finnish nation in Northern Europe is Finland with a population of 5.2 million. Russia is home to several Ugro-Finnish ethnicities scattered around vast territories West of the Urals (the Mari, the Udmurts, the Hanti-Mansi, the Komi, the Mordva, and the Karelians). Saami are the biggest ethnic minority of Norway. Mysteriously residing in Central Europe, Hungarians (about 10 million people) also belong to this group with the language roots untraceable in origin to major languages of Europe. Russia has in recent years tried to promote the interests of its Ugro-Finnish minorities.