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Saturday, February 17, 2018

Tallinn feelers to improve relations with Moscow

In Estonia broke out a domestic scandal caused made at the highest level, the words about protection of the rights of Russian-speaking population. The Prime Minister of the country voted for the abolition of anti-Russian sanctions and called abnormal situation with the so-called non-citizens. Does this mean a real softening of the position of Tallinn about relations with Moscow?

The Prime Minister of Estonia jüri Ratas has complained that in a great measure deprived of the opportunity to conduct their own policy towards Russia, said Tuesday the portal ERR.

“Quiet, but the process is moving. But to finally put an end, a combination of political forces”

“Russia is our neighbour, there is a large market, many firms want to work there. But the situation in Estonia, we create together with the European Union and our partners, such as Finland. We no longer have with Russia are such close economic relations, as before, – has complained the Prime Minister. – As for sanctions, they affect all European States. But it’s not the most important. More importantly, we act within international law”.

He vowed to continue to vote in favor of sanctions against Russia, because “we want the European Union continued to exist.” “We all know the current situation between the European Union and Russia. And it is a member of the European Union”, – he added. Promises Ratas and changes in policy towards NATO. “Yes, Estonia is a NATO member and very active member, it is important for our country”, – said the Prime Minister.

He also refuted the suspicion that some of his fellow of the Centrist parties, in particular the MEP Yana Toom, are under the influence of the Kremlin. “Of course not. I think that they want Estonia to be strong and getting better every year. Yana Toom member of our party has very strong policies. My answer – the Kremlin on our party is not affected. We are influenced by our program, what do you think the people here in Estonia,” said Ratas, saying that Centrist parties are no people who would be sympathetic to the Kremlin.

Ratas in an interview with Radio Liberty on Sunday for the first time openly called abnormal situation, in which hundreds of thousands of people in the country remain without citizenship. He recalled one of the points of the program of the party – that the people who have lived in Estonia for 25 years and more, should automatically receive the Estonian passport. “But we all know that now a coalition of three partners, and this is impossible to achieve. It will be a concrete goal (a slogan) in the next parliamentary elections,” the Prime Minister promised.

Ratas admitted that he is not against “building relations” with Russia, but EU membership is forcing his country to vote for sanctions. The Prime Minister complained that his office is unable to determine policy in relation to Russia.

Ratas interview in Monday and Tuesday are already subjected to harsh censure in unison almost all the parliamentary parties of Estonia, including its ally in the ruling coalition “the Union of Fatherland and Republic” (IRL), told the newspaper Postimees. Four of the six parliamentary parties rejected the idea of “zero citizenship” – that is, finally automatically provide citizenship to all the inhabitants of the country, who lived here until 1992.

As you know, in a coalition with the centrists are still social Democrats and right-wing party “Union of Fatherland and Res Publica”. Thus, the Chairman of the Union, the Minister of defence Margus Zahka confirmed that, as he enters the coalition, there is no “zero citizenship” will not. According to the MP from the Reform party Kristen Michal, to change the principles for granting citizenship is not in the interests of the Estonian people. “Also, you should not play with such promises to please the Russian – speaking voters,” he warned.

The Chairman of the Conservative people’s party (EKRE), Mart Helme, indignant that the Ratas are attracted to “extra voices of Russian-speaking residents”. In his opinion, such a slogan will only help to convince Russian voters that they are still in a privileged position.

However, the member of Parliament from the social Democrats (they are also included in the ruling coalition) Kalev Kotkas in conversation with the newspaper VIEW, on the contrary, welcomed the recognition of the Prime Minister. “Man thinks in this direction, and it is positively”, – said the Deputy. “As far as possible results in the near future, positive changes in this direction – hard to say. It does not depend on one Centrist party, not a Prime Minister”, – said the Deputy.

The same party of the Prime Minister, centrist Vladimir Velman said that to his party such rhetoric was constant. “Since many European institutions have long been putting pressure on Estonia in connection with the problem of non-citizens, this topic is spoken, and would be a success if not for the current composition of the coalition,” he complained. He also said that “the Union of Fatherland and Republic” very hard to treat the problem of citizenship, so that “in the coalition, nothing will happen.”

“I think that some variants of granting of citizenship will be considered. Already addressed the issue of granting citizenship through a facilitated procedure for the children of non-citizens of Estonia. Quietly, but the process is moving”, – said the Deputy.

Welman also does not exclude that decisions on anti-Russian sanctions “can change.” “But in General, if you look at the global trend, we are moving to ensure that sanctions, punitive methods between any of the countries to cancel and still trying to negotiate,” – said the Deputy. Welman also complained that the whole policy of Tallinn depends on the position of Brussels and Washington.

Right-wing parties will use anti-Russian rhetoric, especially in light of the approaching local elections, scheduled for October, predicts welman. “But major, the responsible party has long been understood that the issue of sanctions must be addressed, as this affects including our farmers,” concluded Deputy-centrist.

As you know, in Estonia and Latvia is still home to hundreds of thousands of so-called non-citizens – persons who lived there in Soviet times, but has not received citizenship of these countries after 1991. In November, after the arrival of the Ratas to power, the newspaper VIEW wrote that the Russian minority in Estonia is planned to light the thaw.

Leading researcher of military and strategic studies Oleg Nemensky sure informed the Tallinn played the role of “instigator” of anti-Russian sanctions under pressure from Brussels not so much, how many the Washington. “It concerns the Baltic States. It is the influence of the United States has determined that the post-Soviet Baltic elite was based on the ideology of fierce opposition from Russia. Without this influence, would have won more favorable to republics a different approach. Maybe not like Finland has, nevertheless more calm in relations with Russia”, – said Nemensky the newspaper VIEW.

“Now when the owner who ordered this policy to be suddenly changed, the Baltic elites are at a loss trying to find a new prop. The economy is the same in Estonia in a rather sad state. They went through de-industrialization, depopulation and without significant infusions from the West will not survive. Now that the EU is in crisis, when major donors such as the UK, have begun to curtail their participation in the EU, and the United States are changing the approach to international politics, and to Russia, the Baltic elites remain out of work. For them it is a very alarming situation,” – said the expert.

In his opinion, the statements of the Ratas – an attempt to probe the situation to see if you can change the policy. “The political weight of these States such that for Russia it was a priority. If in the near future would it be possible to change a legally-legal status of the Russian-speaking population in Latvia and Estonia, the possible status of the Russian language, it is very important changes that should work. Any improvement of relations with Russia must be caused by a rigid set of requirements on the status of the Russian-speaking population and the Russian language”, – concluded the expert.


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