Two Iranian warships recently passed through the Baltic Sea in order to participate in the naval parade in Saint Petersburg. These ships were the frigate Sahand and the enormous auxiliary and amphibious ship Makran.
On their way, Sahand crossed into the territorial waters of Estonia, causing what the Estonian authorities classified as a border violation. According to The Frontier Post:
“Last night, after ten o’clock, the Sahand ship bound for St. Petersburg entered Estonian waters from the northwestern side of Osmussaar Island. The Maritime Security Center ordered Sahand to change course and leave the territorial waters, after which the ship headed back to the Estonian economic zone.”, – said the press secretary of the department Andra Yundas to the portal of the Estonian TV and radio broadcasting ERR.
According to her, according to the norms of international maritime law, ships can peacefully cross the territorial waters of another country, but, in accordance with the Estonian state border law, foreign warships must notify the Foreign Ministry of the passage at least 48 hours in advance. The Sahand team did not.
So the Iranians behaved nicely and left the territorial waters of Estonia when asked to do so. But why on earth does Estonia demand a 48 hours prior notice before innocent passage of foreign warships?
I have not been able to find Estonia’s justification for having such a rule, that does not seem to correspond with UNCLOS. If anyone can help, please let me know.
Granted, in scale it is nothing near the kind of arbitrary violations of UNCLOS that Russia has practiced recently in the Black Sea. But it is counterproductive if Western states on the border to Russia invent rules that are not in harmony with international law. The Western message should be that UNCLOS is above national ideas, and not something that you can tweak to the occasion.