Baltic: Estonia, Latvia terminate legal assistance agreements with Russia

The Estonian government has decided to terminate the country’s legal assistance agreement with Russia, ERR reports. The agreement mostly applies to cases under family and commercial law. The decision will lower judicial cooperation with Russia to the same level as with other third countries. Foreign Minister Margus Tsahkna noted that the legal assistance treaty was based on trust in the legal system of the other party, and Estonia had no trust in Russia. Bilateral relations with Russia should be kept at absolutely minimum, Tsahkna stated. Estonia does not cooperate with an aggressor, he added.

Meanwhile, the Latvian parliament, the Saeima, has annulled Latvia’s legal assistance treaty with Russia, LSM reported. The treaty, which was signed in 1993, applied to legal relations in civil, family, and criminal cases. The treaty was deemed to be in contradiction with Latvia’s EU commitments. The treaty will be in force for another six months, after which judicial cooperation with Russia will take place on the basis of binding international agreements such as the European Convention on Mutual Assistance in Criminal Matters and the Hague Service Convention. Lithuania still has a bilateral agreement with Russia on legal assistance and legal relations in civil, family, and criminal cases.