Meri, Canadian diplomat say relations flawless

  • 2000-07-20
TALLINN (BNS) - President Lennart Meri and Canadian Ambassador Peter McKellar contended during a meeting on July 18 that the diplomatic relationship between the two countries was flawless despite the Estonian leader's recent criticism of Canadian visa regulations, the presidential press office said.

Meri spoke at the meeting about his recent trip to Canada, where he held a speech to the Estonian expatriate community which prompted a sharp reaction from the Canadian government in the form of a note.

At the July 18 meeting, Meri said the Estonian world festival ESTO 2000 was a good arena to call on Canadians holding Estonian citizenship to support their mother country, the president's representative said Canadians of Estonian descent can support Estonia both with their intellectual achievements as well as through political lobbying in support of Estonia's foreign policy priorities, Meri said.

The president and the ambassador stated that trade relations between the two countries had great perspectives. A high-level Canadian business delegation is due to visit Estonia this fall.

The meeting between Meri and the Canadian ambassador, who came here from Riga, his permanent place of residence, comes after the Canadian Foreign Ministry last week sent a harshly worded note to Estonia to protest against Meri's remarks at the Estonian world festival ESTO 2000.

In a speech marking the conclusion of the festival in Toronto, Canada, Meri criticized Canada's attitudes to Estonia and the Estonians, including the rigid visa regime, which left many who wanted to go to the ESTO festival without a visa, while others had to suffer local border guards' humiliating behavior.

Appealing to expatriate Estonians to more seriously lobby for Estonia, Meri quoted the simplest example, which in his words gave him the greatest cause for concern: prior to NATO Summit in Washington 1999, Canada supported NATO enlargement for only Slovenia and Romania besides Poland, the Czech Republic and Hungary.