Estonian minister: Relations with Russia depend on developments in Ukraine

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Photo: Jaanus Lensment

Estonia's relations with Russia must be viewed in the framework of EU-Russian relations and they depend to a large degree on whether and how the Ukraine crisis will be solved, Estonian Foreign Minister Marina Kaljurand said.

«Launch of cooperation must be made conditional on the fulfilment of the Minsk agreements, on Russia returning to respecting the principles of European security,» Kaljurand said in her foreign policy speech in parliament on Thursday.

«As long as the commitments taken have not been fulfilled, the pressure of sanctions must continue and Ukraine must remain in the center of Europe's attention. While sanctions are not a goal in itself, by combining their effective implementation with diplomatic efforts and other foreign policy measures the common foreign policy goals of Europe can be achieved. It's important to find a solution to the conflict in Ukraine that would respect and reinforce the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine. In the shorter perspective the goal must be fulfilment of the Minsk agreements,» Kaljurand said.

«Having neighborly relations respectful of others with all neighbors, including Russia, are in the interest of Estonia,» the minister said, at the same time acknowledging that relations with Russia are not such at the moment.

«Yet, unfortunately, it is Russia that holds the key to relations like this,» Kaljurand said answering MPs' questions.

«It's important that as long as the integrity and independence of Ukraine have not been restored, we cannot return to relations as usual,» Kaljurand said. «We mustn't make the same mistakes that were made with Georgia again.»

«Europe forgave Russia the war in Georgia in less than a year. It is our duty to see to it that the same didn't happen with the occupation of Crimea and fighting in eastern Ukraine. Behavior like this mustn't become usual practice. Therefore international non-recognition of the annexation of Crimea is important, just like the occupation of the Baltic countries by the Soviet Union was not recognized. The sanctions imposed on Russia carry the message that violation of international rules has its price,» Kaljurand said.

The Riigikogu on Thursday held a discussion of foreign policy as a matter of significant national importance. Speeches were delivered by the minister of foreign affairs and the chairman of the parliamentary foreign affairs committee, Sven Mikser.