Friday, May 13, 2005

Narva and Peipus
It's a good piece of news that Estonia and Russia will sign the agreement on their state border as well as the demarcation of the sea in the Narva Bay in the Gulf of Finland.

It's taken a long time to get to here. Most of the blame for that falls on the Russian side, but that's now history. There seems to have been a belief that by holding up agreement on the border one could slow down the process of Estonia entering NATO and the European Union.

But that was a mistake. And now Moscow seems intend to sort out the issue.

In the beginning - years ago - there were those on the Estonian side who were less pleased as well. The border as defined in the 1920 Dorpat peace treaty included in Estonia some minor bits of territory that now belong to Russia.

But these areas have been solidly Russian inhabited for a long time, with their citizens having no wish whatsoever to change that. The issue was dropped already by the first Mart Laar government in the early 1990's.

With the Estonian-Russian border issue being sorted out, and the one with Lithuania years ago, it's only the Latvian one remaining. I find it difficult to see that it will not be possible to sort it out fairly soon following the model and the principles applied in the Estonian case. The issues involved are the same.

The border between the East and the West of Europe will now follow the Narva river. There, the Teutonic castle in Narva looks across the border towards the East, and the Russian fortress of Ivangorod on the opposite shore looks towards the West.

Between them, traffic across the bridge is intensifying. It's the peaceful trade and interaction that is the wave of the future.