Estonia and Russia will sign border agreements

  • 2014-02-18
  • From wire reports, TALLINN

Estonian foreign minister Urmas Paet and Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov will sign the Estonian-Russian border agreements on Tuesday in Moscow. The agreements must be ratified by the parliaments of both states before they come into force, Public Broadcasting reports.

Paet and Lavrov will sign three agreements: the state border agreement between Estonia and Russia, the agreement on borders of the sea areas of Narva and Gulf of Finland, and the agreement on conditions of location of Estonian Embassy in Russia and Russian Embassy in Estonia.

As compared to 2005, the wording of the border agreements has remained unchanged but the text has been supplemented with two sentences. With the first sentence, the sides confirm that the agreement regulates only issues concerning the state border and the second sentence confirms reciprocally the lack of territorial claims. The rest of the text is as it was signed in 2005, reports LETA.

After the agreements are signed, the texts of the agreements have to be ratified by the parliaments of both states. The agreements come into force 30 days after the day of exchange of ratification letters. Then work to mark the border line will start.

The border talks between Estonia and Russia date back to the start of 1990s and in 1996. An official delegation for negotiations was formed in Estonia. The delegations agreed upon the main text of the border agreement in October 1996 for the first time and in November 1996, the government gave powers to the then foreign minister Riivo Sinijärv to sign them. The agreements were not signed though.
On March 5, 1999, heads of the delegations Raul Mälk and Ludvig Chizhov initialed the agreements with all extra materials and after that, different Estonian governments have constantly confirmed of readiness to sign the agreements.

The negotiations over the agreements continued till 2005, when Estonian Foreign Minister Urmas Paet and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov signed the border agreement between Estonia and Russia in May 2005. The Riigikogu ratified the agreement that summer but added a preamble that states that the new border agreement changes partly the state border line determined with the Tartu Peace Treaty of 1920 but won't affect the rest of the matters regulated by the treaty.

Less than a month later Russia announced that it will withdraw its signature from the border agreement claiming that the preamble that Estonia added enables to present territorial claims against Russia. Although Estonia repeatedly confirmed of having no territorial claims against Russia, the process was stalled for years, till last year, Estonian MPs asked the government to restart the negotiations.

Estonia and Russia re-launched border agreement consultations in October last year. The 2005 preamble was removed and a wording was found for the agreements that suited both sides.

The new border agreement stipulates that Estonia and Russia exchange 128.6 hectares of land and 11.4 square kilometers of Lake Peipsi on equal basis. Estonia gets the notorious "Saatse Boot" i.e. a boot-shaped slice of Russia-owned land in South East Estonia, containing an Estonian village and a section of a local road and will give to Russia 68.9 hectares in the Marinova forest and 33.9 hectares of land in the Grabilovo marsh.