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    TREATY ON RUSSIAN-ESTONIAN BORDER SIGNED IN MOSCOW

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    MOSCOW, May 18 (RIA Novosti) - The treaties on the Russian-Estonian border and maritime border delimitation in the Gulf of Narva and the Gulf of Finland were signed today in Moscow by the Russian and Estonian foreign ministers, Sergei Lavrov and Urmas Paet.

    The treaties determine the present-day border running along the former administrative border between the Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic and the Estonian Soviet Socialist Republic with a minor adjustment "on condition of the adequate territorial compensation."

    Under the treaties, the parties relinquish to each other 128.6 hectares of dry land and 11.4 sq.km of lake surface. The exchange is in compliance with the parties' wishes.

    The land border treaty resolves the problem of the so-called "Saatse Boot" - a 115.5-hectare Russian area an Estonian highway is running through. It will be given to Estonia in exchange for a 68.9-hectare woodland area in the Meremae District of Estonia and 33.9 hectares of land in the neighborhood of the Varska District.

    Both Estonia and Russia are now entitled to use their respective halves of the fairway of Lake Chudskoye. Russia gets access from the lake to the Narva River while Estonia gets parts of the lake in the vicinity of the Pijrisaar Island.

    The Russian-Estonian border totals 460.6 km, of which 138 km run on land.

    Russia and Estonia reached agreement on the texts of the land and maritime border treaties in November 1996. Once minor amendments had been made, they were initialed one more time in March 1999. That was to be followed by their signing and ratification by the parliaments of both countries. In January 2005, the Estonian government approved the treaties once again and indicated its willingness to sign them at any convenient time.

    Russia offered to do so within the framework of the Estonian president's visit to Moscow to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the end of WWII. However, the Estonian head of state refused to come to Russia.

    Based on the outcome of the Russia-EU summit meeting in Moscow on May 10, Russian President Vladimir Putin said that he had ordered the Foreign Ministry to sign the border treaties with Estonia despite Estonian President Arnold Ruutel's refusal to come to Moscow.

    Thus, the treaties signed, the only Baltic country lacking a border treaty with Russia will be Latvia.

    As is known, the Russian-Lithuanian border treaty was signed in 1997, with the instruments of ratification exchanged and the relevant protocol signed in Vilnius on August 12, 2003.

    During the Council of Europe summit meeting in Warsaw, the Russian foreign minister confirmed Russia's readiness to sign the border treaty with Latvia as well, if Riga does not lay down any additional conditions.

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