No Russian apologies for violations of Estonian airspace
Finnish and Estonian foreign ministers agree on diplomatic cooperation
Estonia’s Minister for Foreign Affairs Urmas Paet said in the Finnish capital Helsinki on Wednesday that Russia has not apologised or expressed regret for any of the times its planes have violated Estonian airspace.
Violations of Estonian territory by Russian military planes have been the same kind of problem for Estonia as they have been for Finland recently. According to Foreign Minister Paet, the problem has continued for years, and the most recent such incident took place a few weeks ago.
Asked if Russia has expressed any regrets for the incidents, Paet answered laconically "No, it has not".
Most recently, a Russian naval troop transport plane violated Finnish airspace on Friday last week. On Tuesday, the Russian armed forces and the Foreign Ministry issued official regrets and an apology. Soon after that, Finnish Prime Minister Matti Vanhanen (Centre) said that the matter was closed.
At a press conference in Helsinki on Wednesday, Paet expressed the hope that no such incursions would take place over Finnish or Estonian territory.
"Naturally an apology is always a good thing", he added.
Paet did not believe that Estonia’s NATO membership would have had any bearing on the issue, nor did he believe that the Russians were trying to test the country’s defences.
"I hope that this would mainly be a technical problem", he said.
Paet was on a one-day visit to Finland. He held talks with Finnish Foreign Minister Erkki Tuomioja (SDP) concerning a number of EU issues and relations with Russia.
At the end of their discussions the two prime ministers signed an agreement under which Estonia will have a consular official working at the Finnish Embassy in New Delhi. Estonia does not have an embassy of its own in India.
Under the agreement, Finland would be allowed to place its diplomats at Estonian embassies in countries where Estonia has an embassy, but Finland does not. One such country might be Georgia.
The agreement breaks new ground in diplomatic cooperation.
Currently the Nordic Countries share embassy buildings in Berlin, and in the Slovak capital Bratislava.
At the press briefing in Helsinki, Foreign Minister Paet learned of the crash of the Copterline helicopter.
The news of the disaster gave a sombre note to the event - not least because Paet had flown to Helsinki on the same helicopter on the same morning.
Previously in HS International Edition:
Russia apologises for last Friday's violation of Finnish airspace (10.8.2005)