The blog of Estonian MP Mart Laar is here.
(hat tip: Leopoldo)
The blog of Estonian MP Mart Laar is here.
(hat tip: Leopoldo)
From the Estonian foreign ministry:
30 April 2007
Foreign Ministry shocked by the behaviour of the Russian Duma delegation
The Foreign Ministry expresses surprise over the behaviour of the Russian Duma delegation. The Estonian side put together a comprehensive programme, which allowed the visiting delegation to thoroughly familiarise itself with topics of interest to them. The Russian delegation refused to participate in the programme that was approved by the head of the delegation, Leonid Slutski, the Vice-President of the State Duma’s Foreign Affairs committee. The members of the Duma did not participate in planned meetings at the Foreign Ministry, where the planned discussion was to cover questions related to the negotiations on the Estonia-Russia war graves agreement.
Upon arrival, the members of the Duma began making unrealistic demands, such as demanding a meeting with arrested Estonian citizen Dmitri Linter.
In addition, the State Duma delegation refused to participate in a joint press conference with Riigikogu Vice-Chairman Kristiina Ojuland and Chairman of the Riigikogu’s Foreign Affairs Committee Sven Mikser, where members of the diplomatic corps were invited to attend. The refusal to participate was explained by a demand to organise a press conference for the press behind closed doors in the Russian Embassy. This demand was based on the absurd assertion that all journalists would not have access to the press conference that was to be held in the Foreign Ministry.
The Foreign Ministry apologises for any inconveniences created by the Russian delegation for those journalists and representatives of the diplomatic corps who had come to attend the press conference.
The Foreign Ministry affirms that Estonia is always prepared and open to all contacts. However, it cannot agree with absurd statements and unreasonable demands.
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The stone that will mark the new Bronze Soldier war memorial in Tallinn’s military cemetery from May 8 onwards. The inscription reads, in Estonian and Russian: “To the Unknown Soldier 1941-1945.” Â (via Postimees).
From the Estonian foreign ministry website
29 April 2007
Foreign Ministry website once again accessible to all
The Foreign Ministry apologises for any inconveniences caused by the lack of accessibility to the Foreign Ministry website from abroad. The website problems were caused by malevolent attacks from the East (artificially high number of inquiries sent in an organised manner). To protect the site, the Foreign Ministry was forced to block access to the website from abroad. Now the problem is under control and the website is once again accessible to all.
Estonian defence minister Jaak Aaviksoo and Estonian foreign minister Urmas Paet have announced at a press conference that the Bronze Soldier statue will tomorrow be moved from its present site at Tõnismägi to Tallinn’s military cemetery, and will be open to the public there on May 8.
Reuters has a report here.
From the Estonian government press office:
29 April 2007
Bronze Soldier will be relocated to the Military Cemetary in central Tallinn
The Estonian Government will begin preparatory works today, Sunday, 29 April, at the military cemetary in central Tallinn to relocate the grave marker (Bronze Soldier).
Dear editors and journalists!
Estonian Prime Minister Andrus Ansip, Foreign Minister Urmas Paet and Minister of Defence Jaak Aaviksoo will give a joint press conference on Sunday, 29 April at 11:00 in the Press Centre of the Estonian Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
All journalists, photographers and TV cameramen should apply for accreditation from the MFA Press Centre by e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org (first and surname, news organization, number of passport/ID-card) . The final deadline for accreditation is Sunday, 29 April, 1000.
Please arrive no later than 1045 at the Visitor’s Entrance of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (Lauteri 2). Please have passports or personal identification cards with you.
In a well-researched and thoughtful comparative study (pdf) of the issues surrounding the Russian minority in Estonia and Czech-Sudeten German relations between the two world wars, Tartu historian Reigo Lokk has drawn attention to disturbing similarities between the Sudeten crisis which developed when Hitler became German Chancellor in 1933 and the present situation in Estonia, which has developed to a critical point since Putin became Russia’s President in 2000. Although it was written before the current unrest over the relocation of the Bronze Soldier statue, the essay contains many perceptions that may help towards an understanding of what is now taking place:
For Russophones living in Estonia, the new situation signified an identity crisis (identification difficulties or fragmented identities) which spelled out the need to redefine their personal and collective identities. Primarily, it brought great difficulties in trying to unite two realities – Russian cultural identity and Estonian political identity. The results of surveys indicate that at least one-third of the Russians have adopted a different understanding of their ethnic or cultural belonging and homeland in connection with the collapse of the Soviet Union. As Czech Germans once were, the present Russian-speaking community in Estonia is, in fact, already highly differentiated by their ethnic origin, citizenship status,
future aims, social capital, and cultural and political allegiances. For example, Melvin writes that Russian speakers “still face fundamental questions about whether their identity is primarily Baltic, Slavic, Russian or Russian-speaking”. The degree to which the post-Soviet Russian minority will be integrated into their new homeland is intimately linked to the question of what kind of collective identity it will develop. Different researchers have pointed out the weakening of a formerly widespread sense of Soviet identity, and the strengthening of a regional identity which is bound to the territory of Estonia. The level of identification with the country of Estonia and its culture is still relatively low. Instead, the majority of Russians identify themselves culturally and emotionally with Russia. A very vivid example of this is the fact that about 100,000 permanent inhabitants of Estonia of Russian origin have taken Russian citizenship; in addition, the number of people with no citizenship in Estonia is still over 165,000. Therefore, it can be said that the Russian minority seems to display a postmodern identity policy of multiple loyalties but one which lacks a clear pattern.
Lokk points to four critical factors that are likely to influence the outcome of the crisis on the domestic situation in Estonia and the other Baltic states, and their national security:
the activity and attitude of the state authorities and titular nations
the foreign policy of the Russian Federation
the behaviour of the Russian minority itself
the international climate
For the past few days, the BBC has been hosting an open public discussion of the Bronze Soldier issue. It’s heartening to see the support for Estonians, who currently face a threat to their country of a kind that few in the West can even begin to imagine.
Meanwhile, the Estonian government has released the following press statements:
28 April 2007
Groundless accusations by Russian Foreign Ministry are directed at escalating tensions in Estonia
The Estonian Ministry of Foreign Affairs decisively refutes the statement made today by the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and considers it unfortunate that the groundless accusations are directed at escalating tensions in Estonia.
The Estonian Prosecutor’s Office has confirmed that the death of a Russian citizen was in no way related to the actions of the police officers maintaining public order on 27 April in Tallinn.
According to the Estonian Prosecutor’s Office an investigation has been launched to establish Dmitry’s (born 1987) cause of death. The evidence collected so far indicates that the death was a result of injuries obtained from a conflict between two private individuals during the riots. The investigation is progressing in order to establish all circumstances of the incident and to find all offenders.
The Estonian Ministry of Foreign Affairs has informed the Russian Embassy in Tallinn of the Russian citizen and Estonian resident’s death.
According to the Estonian Health Care Board, the majority of injuries from the riots were head and minor hand injuries, most likely caused by glass shards from broken shop windows.
28 April 2007
Estonian Foreign Minister expressed indignation at the lack of actions by Russian authorities
Foreign Minister Urmas Paet on Saturday voiced indignation at the lack of actions by Russian authorities in ensuring the security of the Estonian Embassy in Moscow.
“During yesterday’s telephone conversation, Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov assured me that Russia would fulfil all of its obligations in ensuring the safety of all Estonian representations in Russia,” emphasised Paet. “A day later and the wall of the Estonian Embassy in Moscow has been desecrated,” minister said.
Paet added that Estonia demands explanations with regards to this incident from the Russian Foreign Ministry.
These conditions will not allow the Consular Section of the Embassy in Moscow to operate to its full capacity on Monday 30 April. Irrespective of the situation, Estonia will continue to provide its citizens with consular assistance. The Consulate will return to normal business once the security of the Estonian Embassy in Moscow has been ensured.
Death Prayer Held and Identification Proceedings Started at Tõnismäe War Grave
Today, on April 28 Orthodox priest Aivar Sarapik and Lutheran ministerTaavi Laanepere held a Death Prayer at the Tõnismäe war grave before the surveying works are started. Aivar Sarapik held the Death Prayer according to Orthodox traditions.
Ecumenic Death Prayer was held at the Tõnismäe war grave, containing Death Prayers of both Lutheran and Orthodox churches. The essence of the Death Prayer is to pray for departed souls. To pray for departed souls is a traditional Christian and Orthodox custom. The procedure can be carried out independently from the time and place, especially if it is not known who have been killed and where their graves are located.
Photos of the saying of Death Prayer will be published at www.riik.ee/tuvastus <http://www.riik.ee/tuvastus> and at www.kmin.ee <http://www.kmin.ee> . Upon using the photos please refer to the Ministry of Defence as the author. The Death Prayer service was recorded by Estonian Radio and Estonian Television, the recorded material is available to everyone interested. The contact person is Andres Kuusk, e-Mail address email@example.com <mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org> .
The identification proceedings will be carried out according to international regulations, customs and agreements. These include: Disaster Victims Identification Instructions (DVI), general rules and methods of forensic and anthropological practice and recommendations to archeological and anthropoligical investigation.
The identification of persons buried in the war graves is carried out by state forensic institutions the Estonian Bureau of Forensic Expertise and the Estonian Forensic Centre. A coroner will be present at the excavation works, at whose instruction the discovery, excavation and assembly of the remains will take place. The found remains will be documented and packaged by the forensic experts. The research will be carried out as quickly as possible and the results will be forwarded to the Ministry of Defence.
The conclusion of the results of research will be disclosed by the Ministry of Defence.
Director of Public Relations
MoD of Estonia
+ 372 51 88 281
Writing in RFE/RL’s North Caucasus/Chechnya section, analyst Liz Fuller suggests that President Putin’s threat to suspend compliance with the amended 1999 CFE Treaty – an ominous move which is causing consternation in Europe – may be aimed at the North Caucasus region: given the increased deployment of Russian armour and artillery in Chechnya and neighbouring republics since 1999, a further military buildup there could pose a threat to Georgia .