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A panoramic view of the old town of Tallinn

The Estonian parliament’s resolution that claims that the actions of the USSR played a role in starting the Second World War is “a sacrilege,” Russian Ambassador to Estonia Alexander Petrov told TASS. He added that the resolution would gravely affect the relations between both states.

“This is a sacrilege. This is a blatantly unfriendly move by the Estonian parliament, which will undermine the atmosphere of our bilateral relations,” the diplomat said. “Such pitiful actions must be strongly condemned.”

‘Years of missed opportunities’

Russia’s Ambassador to Estonia Alexander Petrov in his interview with TASS has listed the reasons why Tallinn fails to meet Moscow’s proposals for dialogue halfway.

“I believe that the recent years in our countries’ relationship can be described as years of missed opportunities. We have seen chances of raising the level of cooperation,” the diplomat stated.

Petrov pointed out that back in 2014 bilateral trade amounted to $5.3 billion, but then shrank to around $2 billion by 2019. He added that Estonia was among the countries advocating for anti-Russian sanctions to be preserved.

“Along with that, they [Estonia] realize that they suffer major losses because of that,” the ambassador added. “There are well-known Estonian business people who call against those sanctions, but very few of the authorities give attention to what they say.”

“I constantly reiterate that against all the odds, we are still neighbors. We have a centuries-long shared history behind, while there still exists huge attraction between both countries’ peoples,” the diplomat emphasized, referring as an example to cultural events hosted by Estonia.

“Last year, the 15th edition of Golden Mask festival was held. Full houses, applause, [standing] ovations were given to performers from Russia,” the diplomat underscored.

“That proves that we have a potential to develop mutually beneficial and mutually respectful relations, but regrettably, it remains untapped, although it is not our fault,” Petrov stressed. “We have numerously expressed our readiness to build up relations with Estonia in the spirit of mutual respect and good neighborliness. Unfortunately, no response followed from the Estonian side.”

Genuine interests

Touching upon reasons behind the current state of affairs in bilateral relations, the diplomat recalled that Estonia is a NATO member.

“Estonia’s officials frequently define their country as sort of a frontline state. Respectively, they see themselves as a state on an important mission on the frontier of NATO’s defense against, as they say, ‘the aggressive neighbor’ personified by Russia, but actually [Estonia is] looking out for Washington all the time. It is not much of a secret.”

“It would be desirable that Estonia could be more conscious of its own national interests. That country could only gain if the previous cooperation was restored and multiplied,” the ambassador believes.

According to Petrov, ordinary Estonians ask questions when it would be possible to visit one another visa-free and to trade “without any problems.”

“Here are genuine interests of the people, so responsible politicians must take them into account,” he concluded.

The Estonian parliament approved a resolution on Wednesday criticizing the Soviet Union’s actions during the Second World War. The resolution condemns the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact and its secret protocols. The document also expresses support for Poland and other European states, “which Russia has lately considered responsible for the start of the Second World War.” The authors of the document claim that the Russian government is “attempting to rewrite history, denying the role of the Soviet Union as one of the main initiators of the Second World War.”

During his annual news conference on December 19, Russian President Vladimir Putin recalled that the USSR was the last country in Europe to sign the treaty on non-aggression with Germany, known as the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact. Putin noted that the Soviet forces entered Poland in line with the protocols under this pact, whereas Poland had earlier taken part in dividing Czechoslovakia. By the time the Soviet troops entered the territory, the Polish government had lost control over the armed forces and fled the country. As the Russian president said, “there was no one to talk to.”

In response, the Polish Foreign Ministry voiced concerns over Putin’s remark. In its statement, the ministry noted that Putin’s words “represented a wrong picture of events” and aroused concern and mistrust.

In January, the parliaments of Poland and Latvia approved similar declarative resolutions criticizing Russia’s behavior.

Russian Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said earlier that Russia’s position on the results of the Second World War had not changed. “We adhere to the results of the Second World War, their legal description and their legal binding by the Nuremberg trials,” she stressed.

Source: TASS, February 19, 2020