Estonia demands that Russia return territories in line with century-old treaty

The Estonian government has voiced a claim to certain Russian territories that belong to Estonia according to the Tartu Peace Treaty of 1920. At the time, Soviet Russia recognized the republic’s independence and granted parts of Russia’s Pskov and Leningrad provinces to Estonia.

Russia claims that this treaty was invalidated when Estonia became part of the Soviet Union during World War II. The position of the Estonian-Russian border was finally agreed upon in 2005 after 11 years of negotiations. A border treaty was signed, but it still has not been ratified, since Estonia is insisting on compliance with the Tartu Treaty, whereas Russia refuses to take it into account.

“Russia’s signature on these treaties had to be revoked simply due to the fact that Estonian parliament introduced into the text of the ratification law a number of political formulations which reference the Tartu Peace Treaty, which is not in effect and which effectively entails territorial claims against Russia,” said Sergey Belyaev, director of the Russian Foreign Ministry’s second European department.

Henn Polluaas, president of Estonia’s parliament and a member of the Conservative People’s Party, said that Estonia does not need the Russian land.

“Estonia does not have any territorial claims against Russia. We do not want a single square meter of Russian territory. We only want ours to be returned. Russia has annexed roughly five percent of Estonia’s territory,” Polluaas wrote on Facebook.

In the Estonian politician’s opinion, progress on the border treaty with Russia can only be made once Moscow acknowledges the Tartu Treaty and the borders of the Baltic republic which it prescribes.

Kremlin Spokesperson Dmitry Peskov called this condition “unacceptable”, and emphasized that Moscow cannot agree to such a demand.

Estonian Foreign Minister Urmas Reinsalu remarked that the Tartu Treaty is considered valid to this day, and is linked to the concepts of the illegal annexation of Estonia and the restoration of the country’s sovereignty. For this reason, he said, a border treaty on the terms dictated by Russia will never be signed.

  Estonia, Russia