Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Russia, Estonia sign border treaty

Russia has signed a treaty formalizing its border with the Baltic state of Estonia. All of Russia's major territorial disputes have now been resolved, except for that between the country and Japan.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and his Estonian counterpart Urmas Paet attended a signing ceremony in Moscow on Tuesday.

The treaty sets the border on the basis of the boundary drawn during the occupation by the former Soviet Union.

That means Estonia has given up its claims to Russian-controlled land measuring 2,300 square kilometers in area, which is larger than Tokyo.

Estonia was annexed by the Soviet Union during World War Two. After winning independence in 1991, the country started negotiations to restore its previous border, but failed to gain Russia's concessions.

Estonia finally agreed to the current deal after the European Union and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization pressed it to swiftly demarcate its Russian border. Estonia joined the EU and NATO in 2004.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has resolved border disputes with China, Norway and other nations since taking office.

On the territorial dispute with Japan, Lavrov told a news conference after the signing ceremony that Russia will seek a solution acceptable to both sides. Japan maintains that 4 Russian-controlled islands off Hokkaido are Japanese territory and were illegally occupied after World War Two.

Lavrov said Russia has settled border issues with other nations based on reality after World War Two and through practical discussion.

Meanwhile, Paet told NHK normalizing relations with Russia is important for his country. He said the border deal will prevent future conflicts.