Estonia May Drop Territorial Claims With Russia

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The on-going dispute between Estonia and Russia over Estonian territorial claims appears to have finally been settled after the Estonian President and Defense Minister stated there were no claims to pursue. The matter has rattled around since 2005, when the Russian-Estonian border was agreed after almost 11 years of negotiations. A border treaty was also signed then and was submitted for ratification but Estonian MPs voted to include a mention of the 1920 Tartu Peace Treaty in its content. This inclusion did not rule out future potential territorial demands to Russia, meaning Moscow recalled its signature and the process was left legally unfinished.

The talks resumed in late 2012. The treaty was signed in February 2014 by foreign ministers of Russia and Estonia but to enter into force it has to be ratified by both national parliaments. The Estonian President and Defense Minister signaled there are no objections.

The Treaty of Tartu was signed by the Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic (part of the Soviet Union) and Estonia on February 2, 1920. Its conditions stipulated that Ivangorod and a part of the Pechory District belonged to Estonia. After Estonia joined the Soviet Union in 1940, these territories were retro-ceded to Russia.

Contemporary Estonian politics has an oft-strained relationship with Russia. In the middle ages the territory was controlled by mainly Germanic fiefdoms, until becoming a largely self-governing state, albeit with a Russian Imperial era appointed Governor until 1917, when it declared independence yet was occupied by the German military until 1918 and the defeat of Germany in WWI. The country then established increasingly shaky independence from 1919 until 1940 when during WWII it was occupied by the Soviet Union, becoming part of the Soviet Union until its collapse in 1992. However, during that war period Estonia was also invaded and occupied by Nazi Germany on several occasions with some collusion between Germanic Estonians and Berlin. The country was subsequently re-taken by the Soviets at the end of the war, with traitors considered enemies of the State. The memories of that purging is still in many Estonian family histories, while the current Russian Estonians have become marginalized, leading to on-going political and ethnic rivalries and treatments between the two factions now Estonia is part of the EU and ultimately managed from Berlin. The country has always teetered between power exerted from Germany to the West, Russia to the East, and a sense of independence, giving it an occasional schizophrenic nationalism.

Nonetheless, Estonia wishes to increase trade with Russia including handling the transshipment of goods from Russia to other EU nations. A border settlement would assist bilateral trade.

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