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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Estonia-Russia Border Talks Hit Stall

Negotiations to fix the Russian-Estonian border have reached a stalemate, with Estonia insisting on its claim to a swath of Russian territory around Lake Pskov and securing financing from foreign banks to acquire a radar system to strengthen its border defenses, officials said Wednesday.

Estonian Prime Minister Tiit V?hi told reporters in Tallinn that Russia should, "as a declaration, at least for half an hour, recognize the [1920 Tartu peace] treaty, and right after this conclude the border treaty," Interfax reported. When the Soviet Union annexed Estonia, the Russian republic absorbed some territory that had belonged to Estonia under the Tartu treaty.

Alexander Udaltsov, deputy director of the Russian Foreign Ministry's second European department, which handles the Baltics, told Interfax later Wednesday that Russia would not recognize the Tartu treaty in any form, for any amount of time. "The sooner those in Tallinn understand this, the better," he said.

The French Banque Paribas and the Japanese financial corporation Marubeni meanwhile signed a deal with Estonian Finance Minister Mart Opmann on Wednesday guaranteeing $9.4 million to buy radar systems from the French firm Thompson CSF and to install them on the Russian border, Interfax reported.

Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman Grigory Karasin on Tuesday condemned the "continuing interference" of the Estonian government in a dispute between two rival Orthodox churches there. He said Russia hoped "that the Orthodox Church in Estonia headed by Archbishop Kornelius will at last be registered, its property will be recognized and its congregations will be able to pursue their activities unimpeded."

Archbishop Kornelius heads an unregistered church affiliated with the Moscow Patriarchate. The Estonian Apostolic Orthodox Church, which falls under the Constantinople Patriarchete, registered in August 1993, and is considered the rightful heir to all property of the pre-war church.

Estonian officials Wednesday rebuffed the charge of interference, however, claiming that the government has acted on the basis of a strict separation of church and state. "All these problems must be sorted out between the churches,"said Beren Kleu, chief spokesman for President Lennart Meri.