Estonia paves way to closer links with Armenia

Estonia paves way to closer links with Armenia

Eesti Paevaleht web site, Tallinn
8 Nov 04

Even though Armenia is strictly following Moscow in its foreign policy,
President Arnold Ruutel’s team does not think this is a reason for
avoiding a relationship. In a brief interview with Eesti Paevaleht,
Ruutel said that his official visit to Armenia from 13 to 16 November
was “part of the European policy on near neighbours”. He said that
the pro-Russian moods in Armenia had come as a result of the country’s
complicated economic and political situation.

Ruutel emphasized that the subject of Transcaucasus was important
to him. Alongside an invitation for a visit from Armenian President
Robert Kocharyan, he is yet to take up an invitation for a visit from
Mikheil Saakashvili, the Georgian head of state.

Tiit Matsulevits, member of the Foreign Affairs Commission in the
Riigikogu [Estonian parliament] and former ambassador, said in comment
that the presidential visit was “new, surprising, interesting and
groundbreaking against the background of Estonian foreign-policy
priorities so far”. When asked whether visits to Armenia would be
expedient, Matsulevits replied by recommending that one should think,
among other things, about the shortage of resources when it came to
Estonian foreign-policy relations. Ruutel’s visits have recently been
to exotic places; the most recent one was to Japan.

A Ministry of Foreign Affairs source said unofficially that there were
problems with Armenia because Russia was the only Armenian ally in the
region and for this reason Yerevan was always oriented on Moscow. For
this reason, Armenia has been aiming to join the declarations initiated
by Russia in the OSCE and elsewhere, and these can often be hostile
to Estonia.

Foreign Minister Kristiina Ojuland also took up a clearly supportive
position on involvement with Armenia. “This is a country where there
are forces that would like more attention from EU countries,” Ojuland
noted. “I cannot say that we are not interested in Armenia’s future.”

The president will meet the Armenian head of state, the parliament
speaker and the prime minister. He will also be accompanied by a
business delegation. “There have been long-term cultural relations
between Estonia and Armenia,” the president added. [Passage omitted]