The Treaty of Tartu


By the middle of November, it was clear that out of the Baltic States only Estonia was interested in peace with the Soviet Russia.

The Triple Entente (Great Britain and France) gave Estonia the freedom to sign a peace treaty. The Constituent Assembly formed Estonian Peace Delegation. Ants Piip, Julius Seljamaa, Mait Püüman and Major General Jaan Soots were elected, the delegation was lead by Jaan Poska.

The Russian Delegation was first led by Leonid Krassin, but he was replaced in the middle of December by Adolf Joffe.

The peace conference began in Tartu on December 5, 1919, and it lasted until February 2, 1920. Acknowledging the Republic of Estonia was not an issue, the real problem was the border question. Only after the failure under Narva, Russia became more lenient, but also Estonia had to compromise.

The truce was signed at 19.45 on December 31: It took effect on all the fronts on January 3, 1920 at 10:30 according to Tallinn, and 12:00 according to Moscow time. From January on, long debates were held over economical issues, but slowly, Estonia gave up further bargaining. The Treaty of Tartu was signed on February 2, 1920 at 00.45, in Vanemuise (then Aia) street in the house 35 (see image).

The treaty ended the war between Estonia and Soviet Russia, who then acknowledged Estonia's independence and renounced all claims on the Estonian territory. A strategically beneficial border for Estonia was established. Estonia also received Setoland with the towns of Petseri and Izborsk and the area behind Narva River. Also, the sections about the relocation of the Estonians in Russia, and those mentioning economical questions, were important.
Altogether, Estonia lost over 5000 men and women in the War of Independence.

Source: Eesti ajalugu. VI, Vabadussõjast taasiseseisvumiseni. Tartu: Ilmamaa, 2005
Eesti ajaloo atlas. Tallinn: Avita, 2006.                                                                                                 

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