Heated debate disrupts planned summit

  • 2002-01-24
  • TBT staff
TALLINN - Estonian President Arnold Ruutel has accepted a proposal by Russian diplomats to meet his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin in the near future. But the prospect has led to a dispute within the Estonian elite.

Konstantin Provalov, Russia's ambassador to Estonia, handed the offer of a presidential summit to Ruutel at the beginning of January. Provalov suggested sending a special representative to Moscow to help arrange the meeting.

Although Ruutel has not even decided yet who will go to Moscow to carry out the necessary preparations, Estonia's Foreign Ministry has already expressed its displeasure with the organization of the event.

Foreign Minister Toomas Hendrik Ilves made it clear that Karin Jaani, Estonian ambassador to Russia, represented the president, and that Ruutel would have violated diplomatic practice by making someone else prepare the meeting.

Ruutel met Ilves on Jan. 21 in an effort to settle the dispute and affirmed that the probable meeting would be organized in cooperation with the Foreign Ministry.

The Russian Foreign Ministry has not confirmed whether the administration of President Putin is already working on the organization of the summit.

The meeting between Putin and Ruutel would be only the second encounter between the presidents of Russia and Estonia. Lennart Meri, the previous president of Estonia, met Boris Yeltsin in 1994 to sign a historic agreement on the withdrawal of Russian troops from Estonia and social guarantees for Russian military pensioners residing in Estonia.