Today the Riigikogu (Parliament of Estonia) concluded the first reading of the Bill on the Ratification of the Estonian-Russian State Border Treaty between the Republic of Estonia and the Russian Federation and the Treaty on the Delimitation of Maritime Areas of Narva Bay and the Gulf of Finland between the Republic of Estonia and the Russian Federation (108 SE).
Minister of Foreign Affairs Marina Kaljurand noted that the texts of the treaties had not changed in comparison to the texts of 2014. Only the explanatory memorandum attached to the treaties has been amended – it was brought up to date by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs by adding the opinion of the incumbent Chancellor of Justice.
The Minister of Foreign Affairs believes that concluding of the border treaties with Russia will have a positive impact on the security of Estonia, as it helps increase stability and predictability in the relations between the countries, and preclude possible misunderstandings and confusion on such an important issue as the territories of the states.
“A border that has been clearly laid down and marked is a factor that additionally ensures security,” Kaljurand said, and added that the border treaty enables to remove the illogicality of border lines and guard the border more effectively.
Chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the Riigikogu Sven Mikser gave an overview of the legislative proceedings on the bill in the Committee.
After the reports of the Minister of Foreign Affairs and Chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee and questions to them, the debate of the representatives of factions started. Members of the Riigikogu Henn Põlluaas and Andres Herkel participated in the debate.
Põlluaas said that Estonia did not need the border treaty and it was harmful to Estonia. In his opinion, the issue is in sovereignty and whether Estonia wants to protect its territorial integrity. In the name of the Conservative People’s Party of Estonia, he moved to reject the Bill at the first reading. 13 members of the Riigikogu voted in favour of the motion, 63 were against and there was one abstention. The motion was not supported and the first reading of the Bill was concluded.
Andres Herkel pointed out that the treaties had great essential inadequacies and did not mention Tartu Peace Treaty. He also drew attention to the fact that Estonia was again one-sidedly ratifying the treaties and did not know how the other party would behave.
The treaties will establish the state border between Estonia and Russia, and delimit the maritime areas of Narva Bay and the Gulf of Finland between those countries. The border line in the description of the state border and the line depicted on the maps will to a small extent differ from the present control line, and the exchange of certain parcels of land will take place between the parties. For example, Estonia will be given lands in the region of the so-called Saatse Boot, and Russia in Marinova Forest region of Meremäe municipality and in Suursoo region of Värska municipality. The parties agreed that the changes on the land, including on the lakes, would be equal, so that both sides would neither lose nor gain territory.
Bills on international agreements are discussed in the Riigikogu at two readings, if the lead committee does not move to conduct a third reading. The ratification of international treaties which modify the borders of Estonia requires a two thirds majority of the members of the Riigikogu, or the support of 68 members.
The Act will enter into force pursuant to general procedure. The treaties will enter into force 30 days after the date of the exchange of instruments of ratification. When the treaties have entered into force, the two countries will form a demarcation committee, and the marking of the borders, during which the state border is laid down and marked off, will begin.
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