The right of self-determination of peoples as defined in the Charter of The United Nations encouraged Estonian nationals in the year 1990 to sever the ties with The Soviet Union, into which the Republic of Estonian was violently forced 50 years ago.
After declaration of independence in 1918, Estonia had to fight the Russian and German forces that were trying to maintain their rule over Estonians. The Independence War ended with Tartu Peace Treaty, signed on February 2, 1920. In that Treaty Russia denounced forever all rights Russia had over the Estonians and their territory until signing the Treaty. The state border between Russia and Estonia was very meticulously defined in the Tartu Peace Treaty.
The documents of 1990, describing how the restoration of independence must be implemented, prevent anyone to conclude that the territory of Estonia shall be reduced to suit changes made by the Soviet. Surprisingly not knowing or not wanting to know that Estonia has a valid Border Treaty with Russia, some influential western friends started soon to advise the inexperienced Estonian politicians to sign a Border Treaty with the Russian Federation. Estonian officials have refused to publicize documents about the persons involved, and the arguments and counterarguments presented. Most likely the recommendations were verbal, and made and accepted without realizing the harmful implications for Estonia. Being aware of the advisers’ pressure to replace the existing border treaty with a new one, the Russian Federation demanded not to state in the new treaty why an existing treaty had to be replaced. As urged by friends, Estonian leaders complied with that demand.
Now we can review the results of the new Border Treaty. Russia is still unwilling to have normal relations with its small neighbor. When the treaty was signed, Estonia was already a member of NATO and EU. So the new treaty accomplished nothing beneficial for Estonia. The Russian Federation was freed from the obligation to give back to Estonia 5% of their territory that the Soviet Union had taken away. Consenting to this give-away did not make the world a better place - it just undermined the authority of the restored Republic of Estonia.
Additionally, the new treaty could prove eventually a very useful argument in claiming that the Republic of Estonia is actually one of the former Republics that left USSR in 1991. Currently the experts in state law deem this argument to have no legal power. However, international circumstances have previously caused the major doers to prefer “world peace” or “helping to fight terrorism” to the rights of small nations – regardless the noble stipulations in the Charter of The United Nations. In case Estonia would have abstained from replacing the since year 1920 valid border treaty with a new one, no-one could question her legal rights to be the successor of the state that existed before the Western Allies decided to leave the Baltic states into the deadly “sphere of influence” of the Soviet Union.
All world leaders have now had enough time to understand that the Russian Federation indeed believes the collapse of the Soviet Union to be a major catastrophe of the 20-th century that must be made good. Likewise it is quite realistic to conclude that Russia is determined to influence important decision makers in the West to approve or support actions that in the end will force the Baltic states back where they were before that major catastrophe. Since the Baltic states are NATO members, the above aim will be realized by peaceful means.
In the preoccupation era there were about 8% non-Estonians living in Estonia. During the half a century long Soviet occupation, 400 000 Russians were brought to Estonia – partly to replace those murdered and deported to Siberia and partly to speed up the genocide of the Estonian nation. The colonists had a privileged status in obtaining work and housing, and Estonians were forced to learn quickly to speak Russian. This suppression and the differences in customs and convictions have prevented these two nations to intermix or to socialize noticeably. Especially since on many occasions one has been the brutal intruder and the other always a defender and victim. Yet in general, Estonians do not consider the Russians living in Estonia responsible for the deeds of the rulers of Soviet Russia, but they dislike friendly urgings to consider the occupation era merely a historic inevitability that has transformed illegal Russian immigrants into co-founders of the Republic of Estonia.
After regaining independence in 1991 the government concluded – most likely as guided by our friends - that regardless of international law, Estonia has to treat all Russians present to be legal immigrants. This unwarranted declaration, the occupation era privileges and the fact that practically all Estonians were forced to be bilingual, prompted the majority of the Russian colonists consider learning to speak Estonian a totally futile task. It was considerably more convenient to assume that sooner or later Russian is bound to be the second official language of Estonia.
Despite clearly knowing that during 50 years of Soviet rule, Estonians, other than dedicated communists, repudiated their nationalistic convictions or rejoiced about the victories of the Red Army and the “culture” brought by the colonists, the Government decided to transform Estonia’s “two communities” into “a multicultural nation”. To accomplish this aim almost instantly Estonians were requested:
• to accept that Russian language schools, that existed in Soviet Estonia for children of all Russian speaking persons, be allowed to continue to educate – including to teach history in the manner “that was close to the heart of the teachers” as pronounced by an important Russian politician totally fluent in Estonian and with legally obtained Estonian passport;
• to behave in a manner that would allow Russians to feel most welcome in Estonia – including not to be annoyed if they insist that Red Army freed Estonia in 1944, and when Russians working in public services do not understand and speak Estonian sufficiently well;
• to forget historic past and to assume that human rights and European values compel Estonians to accept the Russians as co-founders of the Republic of Estonia – despite that they were sent here as part of the serious crimes against humanity that the Soviet Union committed;
• to accept that Government and public dignitaries and news media refrain from participating and reporting public events honoring Estonian men, in total about 70 000, who were prompted to revenge Stalin era serious crimes against Estonians in very fierce battles in 1944 – seriously hoping to delay Red Army from conquering Estonia until help from West arrives.
To be continued.
Friendly undermining of restored independence