EU/ESTONIA: RUSSIA LOOMS LARGE IN JOINT PARLIAMENTARY COMMITTEE.
Estonia has recently introduced visa obligations for Russian, Belarussian and Ukrainian nationals, to meet the acquis communautaire on justice and home affairs. The JPC noted supportively that there were areas where Russia in particular was now expected to do its part to assure good neighbourly relations. One is the signature and the ratification of the border agreement between Estonia and Russia, which remains a bone of contention. The other is Russia's willingness to agree to modifications of the Partnership and Co-operation Agreement it has with the EU: this needs to be extended to apply to all acceding Member States and without differentiation. There has been some hesitation from the Russian side, especially in respect of the Baltic states which until just over a decade ago were part of the Soviet Union.
The JPC also expressed concern about the situation in Moldova split still by the secessionist ambitions of Transdniestra, and where Russian troops remain in large numbers despite promises to leave. The Committee emphasised "the importance of avoiding artificial divisions of the country", and drew attention to "the urgent need to withdraw Russian troops and ammunition in accordance with commitments made by Russia in 1996".