WASHINGTON - Estonian Prime Minister Andrus Ansip admitted on Wednesday that trade and economic relations between Estonia and Russia were “not so close,” but demonstrated no regrets about it.
Estonia wants to have good-neighbourly, pragmatic relations with all neighbours, including Russia, Prime Minister Andrus Ansip said here in reply to Russian reporters’ queries after a speech at the Washington National Press Club.
However, “there is space for improving relations” with Moscow, the prime minister stressed. Questions focused both on economy and politics, but he narrowed them down to trade and economic relations between the two neighbouring countries. He stressed that these ties “are not so close,” but demonstrated no regrets about it.
Speaking about the economic consequences of the recent row around the dismantlement of the monument to Soviet Soldier Liberator in Tallinn, Ansip said that following the row Russian-Estonian trade “has declined by over 40 percent,” but this cost Estonia only 0.5 to one percent of GDP growth.
The prime minister also noted that the lion share of direct foreign investments in Estonia, about 80 percent, comes from Sweden and Finland, while Russia’s share is only 2.5 percent. He said Estonia welcomes all investments in its economy, but it does not like such investments, which make it possible to manipulate political decisions.
Doudou Diene, U.N. special rapporteur on contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance recently spoke about signs of discrimination against Russian-speaking population in Estonia. Ansip, however, denied that. “International organizations have made no offers to Estonia to change our policy,” he said.
In reply to an Itar-Tass query about prospects for Estonia’s joining the Conventional Armed Forces in Europe Treaty, the prime minister said his country would join the treaty as “new member” no earlier than it was ratified by all present participants.
He said Tallinn would discuss limits on the number of forces and armaments “first of all with NATO partners, and only then with third parties”.