Estonia PM questions Baltic plan to price Soviet occupation

6th November 2015, Comments 0 comments

Estonia's premier raised doubts Friday about the decision of three Baltic states to calculate how much money they lost under some 50 years of Soviet occupation, a move that could trigger reparation claims against Russia.

Justice ministers from EU and NATO members Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania decided Thursday that after a quarter century of independence, it was high time "to calculate in a scientifically justified manner the losses caused by the totalitarian communist occupation regime of the USSR."

"I don't quite understand what we as a state have to gain from this memorandum," Premier Taavi Roivas told Estonia's ERR public broadcaster Friday, insisting the move would complicate foreign policy.

"Not just Russia, but many of our Western allies will raise their eyebrows, as well," Roivas said.

The premier also explained that his justice minister had taken the initiative to endorse the agreement, without fully explaining its consequences.

The Soviet Union occupied the Baltic states in 1944 toward the end of World War II.

After regaining independence in 1991, historians and MPs have frequently tried to put a price tag on the occupation with a view to claiming reparations.

But this is the first time the three countries have joined forces in a concerted manner.

The Russian Federation consistently argues that it bears no responsibility for the actions of the Soviet Union and disputes whether the Baltic states gave up their independence by force or voluntarily.

As ties with the West have deteriorated over the Ukraine crisis, Russia has boosted its military presence in its Kaliningrad enclave, which sits west of and on the blind-side of the Baltic states.

Moscow's moves have prompted NATO to up its presence in all three Baltic states, as well as other members formerly in the Soviet orbit, so that its new high speed rapid reaction force can hit the ground running in any crisis.

© 2015 AFP

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