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Cablegate: European Parliament President Offers Support

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RR RUEHAG RUEHDF RUEHIK RUEHLZ RUEHROV
DE RUEHTL #0598 2541431
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 111431Z SEP 07
FM AMEMBASSY TALLINN
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 0169
INFO RUCNMEM/EU MEMBER STATES COLLECTIVE
RUEHBS/USEU BRUSSELS

UNCLAS TALLINN 000598

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV PREL EU EN
SUBJECT: EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT PRESIDENT OFFERS SUPPORT
FOR ESTONIA'S LANGUAGE REFORMS


1. (U) Summary: In August, President of the European
Parliament Hans-Gert Poettering visited Estonia to
discuss the GOE's language and integration reform
efforts for the Russian-speaking minority. Poettering
met with representatives of Estonia's Russian-speaking
community as well as President Ilves, Prime Minister
Ansip and key Parliamentarians. Poettering publicly
commended the GOE's integration efforts -- in
particular its language reforms in Russian-speaking
schools -- and mildly chastised Russia's refusal to
acknowledge its history in regards to Soviet
occupation of the Baltic States. End Summary.

Russian-Speaking Minority Integration
-------------------------------------

2. (U) According to Anneli Entson, Advisor to Speaker
of the Estonian Parliament Ene Ergma, the principal
purpose of Poettering's August 14-17 visit was to hear
the views of representatives of Estonia's Russian-
speaking minority on the European Union (EU) and life
in Estonia. Poettering met with leaders from the
"Russian Party", Russian-speaking members of the
Center Party, business leaders, and different cultural
associations in Narva. (Note: Narva is Estonia's
third largest city. It is located on the border with
Russia and its population is 98% Russian-speaking.
End Note.) Poettering told the press that his
meetings confirmed that Estonia's Russian speakers see
their future in Estonia and the EU.

3. (U) While some Russian speakers complained to
Pottering about the Estonian language test requirement
for citizenship, Poettering commended the GOE's
promotion of Estonian language in Russian-speaking
high schools as an important tool for integrating the
Russian-speaking minority. He encouraged Russian
speakers to fully integrate themselves as Estonian and
European citizens. Entson said that Poettering's
support for Estonia's language reforms was extremely
important in light of renewed accusations from Moscow
on Estonian "mistreatment" of the Russian-speaking
minority.

Europe's Relations With Russia
------------------------------

3. (U) In their meetings with Poettering, senior GOE
and Parliament officials (e.g., President Ilves, Prime
Minister Ansip, Speaker Ergma, and other officials)
discussed the EU's relations with Russia.
Parliamentary Speaker Ergma thanked Poettering for the
European Parliament's support during the Bronze
Soldier crisis in April. Ergma stressed the need for
the EU to strengthen its common policies vis-a-vis
Russia, especially with regard to energy security.
Ergma said the EU must take a stand on its democratic
principles and not sacrifice them for
economic/national self-interest. President Ilves told
Poettering that it is crucial for Europe to speak with
one voice and for EU member states to demonstrate more
solidarity when dealing with Moscow. Poettering
agreed that there is a lack of unity in the EU on
Russia.

4. (U) In his comments to the press, Poettering
chastised Moscow for its refusal to acknowledge the
suffering of Estonia and the other Baltic States
during the period of Soviet occupation. "Life under
the communist dictatorship left a very strong mark on
Estonians," Poettering told the Estonian press, "[and]
that understanding, I think, is not very widespread in
Russia." Poettering called on Russia to deal honestly
with its history. Jaanus Rahumagi, MP and member of
the parliamentary Estonia-U.S.A Group, hailed
Poettering's visit as an example of the European
Parliament's consistent support for Estonia.
Poettering's positive assessment of Estonia's
integration efforts and criticism of Russia's refusal
to honestly deal with its history went over well with
his GOE and parliamentary hosts. Our MFA
interlocutors have told us that they hope this message
from such a high-level EU official will counter some
of Moscow's "anti-Estonian" press.

DECKER

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