REPLY FROM JOFFE, SOVIET REPRESENTATIVE IN BERLIN, TO A STATEMENT BY ESTONIAN REPRESENTATIVES IN BERLIN ON ESTONIAN INDEPENDENCE, TRANSMITTED THROUGH THE GERMAN FOREIGN MINISTER
26 May 1918
Izvestia, 6 June 1918
In acknowledging the receipt of Your Excellency's note, and its enclosures, containing the declarations of the Estonian and Livonian nobility on the independence of Estonia and Livonia, I have the honour to inform Your Excellency that I was unable to accept from the three representatives of the Estonian and Livonian nobility who called upon me the document which supposedly gives the declaration of Estonian and Livonian independence, since its acceptance might be interpreted as recognition of their independence by the Government of the Russian Federal Socialist Republic.
In my note Of 24 April I had the honour of entering an emphatic protest, on behalf of my Government, and in keeping with the Brest Treaty of Peace, against any decision being made, one way or the other, in regard to the destiny of Estonia and Livonia without the previous consent of the workers' andpeasants' Government of the Russian Republic. To this I added that my Government, while recognizing the unrestricted right of every nation to self-determination, will never accept the decision of a small group ofpeople as the expression of the will of the entire nation.
What I said in my note can be supplemented by the fact that the representatives of the Estonian and Livonian nobility who handed me the document could not claim the right to speak in the name of the entire population of Estonia and Livonia; may I substantiate this statement by the following considerations:
Firstly: Certain members of the Estonian-Lettish delegation which has arrived in Berlin gave me a formal statement that they did not consider themselves entitled to speak on behalf of the entire nation, since they were not elected, but appointed by the (German) authorities.
Secondly: Of the total Of 21 district elders who, in the Assembly which met on 12 April, represented the peasant population, 18 stated officially that they had no right to speak on beha4f of the Estonian nation, and protested solemnly against
Thirdly: Thousands of citizens in the urban and rural districts of Estonia and Livonia openly protested against such an artificial and forcible separation of these territories from Russia.
Consequently the document transmitted to me by Your Excellency can only be regarded as the expression of the will of a small part of the Estonian and Livonian populations, that small part being the upper ranks of their nobility.
While maintaining the point of view expressed here, I am forwarding the document transmitted to me by Your Excellency to my Government in Moscow.
Documents on Soviet Foreign Policy
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