TALLINN - The Russian ambassador to Estonia has expressed regret that the decision of the Estonian authorities to expel the Russian consul general in Narva and a Russian consul, as well as the retaliatory steps that Russia was forced to take, bring to naught positive changes which have occurred in bilateral relations of late.
"We have not been initiators of the kind, we were forced to react to this apparently unfriendly action by the Estonian authorities," Russian Ambassador to Estonia Alexander Petrov told Interfax commenting on Moscow's decision to expel two Estonian diplomats.
"The decisions made by the Estonian authorities, unfortunately, reduce to nothing many positive changes which we have achieved this year," he said.
The ambassador listed a trip by Estonian Prime Minister Juri Ratas to St. Petersburg on April 8, a trip by a group of Estonian MPs and business people to the TransRussia exhibition, "where quite useful talks have taken place," just like the signing of an intergovernmental agreement on promoting the development of interregional and border cooperation on May 18, among the things which "quite favorably" influence the development of bilateral relations.
"There have been certain shifts, which indicate our bilateral cooperation, but the Estonian side's decision reduces to nothing this effect of apparently quite hopeful development in our bilateral relationship, which causes our understandable regret," Petrov said.
"I resolutely reject the talk and suspicions concerning both of our employees when it comes to activity inconsistent with their diplomatic status," he said, commenting on some media reports that Russian diplomats were expelled because of hard talk with the mayor of the town of Kivioli.
"It is difficult for me to understand the true reasons behind the decision made by the Estonian side. If the cause lies in this conversation, it is even more unclear to me, because talk is talk and the mayor said it was emotional. I do not understand how such decisions entailing great responsibility can be made on the basis of a simple conversation," the ambassador said.
Both the Estonian Foreign Ministry and the Russian Embassy earlier declined to comment to Interfax about the reason behind the expulsion of the Russian diplomats, Russian Consul General in Narva Dmitry Kazennov and consul Andrey Surgaev.
Meanwhile, the ETV+ television station suggested that the reason for the expulsion was a meeting over the fate of a memorial to Soviet pilots shot down over Estonia in 1944 that involved the two diplomats and the mayor of the northeast Estonian city of Kivioli, Nikolai Vojeikin.
Russia on Wednesday declared Estonian Consul General in St. Petersburg Jaanus Kirikmae and head of the chancellery for the Pskov region at the Estonian Consulate General in St. Petersburg Katrin Kanarik personae nongratae.