Estonia and Russia sign border deal
19.05.05 @ 10:16
Estonia and Russia signed on Wednesday (18 May) a treaty fixing the border between the two countries, and therefore a part of the EU's eastern border as well.
Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov and his Estonian counterpart Urmas Paet signed the treaty in Moscow.
The draft of the document had been ready since 1996, but Russia long delayed the signature.
Mr Lavrov, however, did not give reasons for the delay.
"I prefer spotlighting our future relations rather than trying to determine why the treaty has been signed only today", he is quoted as saying by Russian RIA Novosti agency.
The Estonian foreign minister stated that the signing of the border agreement would hopefully stimulate the Russian-Estonian relationship.
The border will stay the same as when both countries were part of the Soviet Union, with sea borders in the Gulf of Finland and Gulf of Narva in the Baltic Sea.
The treaty now has to be ratified by both countries' parliaments.
Besides being important for Russia and Estonia, the treaty is a key document as regards Russia and EU relations.
The agreement may help the pair move forward on the question of easing visa rules between the two and fighting against illegal immigration.
Russia ratified a similar pact with Lithuania in 2003, but agreement with Latvia, the third Baltic country, has not yet been reached.
Tensions between Russia and the Baltic countries rose last month, as Moscow held celebrations over the 60th anniversary of the end of the Second World War.
Estonia and Lithuania refused to attend the celebrations, arguing that the end of the War meant a long period of Soviet occupation for the Baltic countries.
Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania were annexed by the Soviet Union, after the conflict.
The USSR disintegrated into 15 separate states in December 1991, after some 70 years of cohesion.