Tartu peace treaty with Soviet Russia is fundamental document for Estonia

The Tartu Treaty of Peace with Soviet Russia is a fundamental document for Estonia, its Prime Minister Juri Ratas said at a formal event marking the 102nd anniversary of national independence on Saturday.

“The Tartu peace treaty, for us and for the world, is a fundamental document which ended the liberation war, affirmed our independence, and paved the way toward the international recognition of Estonia,” Ratas said.

“The Estonian Republic, which celebrates its 102nd anniversary in two days, is, thanks for the wisdom of the authors of the peace treaty, now a confident, independent and successful home for all of us,” he said.

Under the treaty, signed in Tartu on February 2, 1920, Estonia and Soviet Russia recognized each other’s independence. The treaty delineated the pre-war joint border, with Ivangorod and a part of the Pechora District in the Baltic republic. When Estonia became part of the USSR in 1940, these territories became part of the Russian Soviet Socialist Republic.

Estonia regards the treaty as still valid. Russia sees it as a historical document which has no legal force.

“Allegations by some Estonian politicians that the Tartu peace treaty continues its effect are void from the legal standpoint. We have repeatedly stressed that it is not on the UN register of effective international agreements. So, from the legal standpoint, all these reasonings are absolutely void,” the Russian Foreign Ministry’s spokesperson Maria Zakharova said on February 3. In her view, such claims were made in the “momentary interests of a part of the Estonian political elite, which is being stimulated from outside” to keep up tension in Tallinn’s relations with Moscow, she said.

The differences in the approach to the treaty became the main obstacle to signing a joint border agreement.

In 2005 the two countries signed a border agreement in Moscow in 2005 after more than a decade of talks. However, when ratifying it, Estonia added a reference to the Tartu treaty to the preamble. Moscow saw this as an attempt to reserve a future right to territorial claims and recalled its signature. In 2014 the two countries’ foreign ministers signed a new agreement, which has still not been ratified.

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