Russian-Estonian Relations Take Cold Turn

Russian-Estonian relations, which had become more active over the last year, have turned cool again. According to Estonia's leading daily Postimees, the main sign of this is the refusal of the two countries' foreign ministers to fulfill mutual visits that had been scheduled for February. After the issuing of invitations in December, the visits had seemed certain to take place.

As usual, the two sides are blaming each other. The Estonian Foreign Ministry claims that it has still not received a programme from Moscow for the visit of Foreign Minister Kristina Ojuland. Without the programme the visit cannot take place. The Russian Foreign Ministry claims that it has still not received a reply to the invitation delivered at the end of December by Russian Ambassador Konstantin Provalov. The Estonian Foreign Ministry insists that a positive reply was given.

The Baltic Information Centre for Regional Problems says that, according to a number of Estonian experts, Moscow wants to wait until the results of Estonian parliamentary elections in March before making any concrete moves. Moscow's preferred partner in Estonia is Edgar Savisaar's party. A number of sources in Russian government and economic circles have also made clear that they are extremely annoyed by Kristina Ojuland's recent statements about Russia, particularly a memo written by her in January about compensation from Russia for losses sustained by Estonia during the Soviet occupation. The reason for these statements is most likely the upcoming elections in Estonia, which look like being very bitterly contested. The Reform Party, which Kristina Ojuland represents, cannot take the risk of adopting an untraditional policy towards Russia on the eve of the elections. Russia's desire to wait for a new Estonian government to be formed is also entirely logical.

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