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Foreign Ministry Secretary General Met with European Union Colleagues

15.09.2010

No. 275-E

Foreign Ministry Secretary General Marten Kokk met with his colleagues at the informal meeting of secretaries general of European Union foreign ministries in Brussels. They also met with High Representative for Foreign and Security Policy Catherine Ashton, with whom they discussed matters related to implementing the European Union External Action Service and the Treaty of Lisbon. They also addressed economic issues, the effect of the economic crisis on the foreign services of EU member states, and the priorities of the Belgian presidency.

Secretary General Kokk noted that the tightened budgets of the EU member states’ foreign services have also brought about positive developments, as practical co-operation between foreign ministries has increased. “We just concluded an agreement between the Estonian and Finnish foreign ministries, by which an Estonia diplomat will begin working at the Finnish Embassy in Lusaka, Zambia as of January 2011. In Cairo, the Estonian and Latvian embassies are located in the same building—in addition to each having their own embassy rooms as well as some shared spaces, they also co-operate to help citizens with consular questions,” said Kokk, listing examples of Estonia’s co-operation experiences with other countries. The secretaries general also addressed how IT solutions can be helpful to the fundamental work of a foreign ministry. “The Estonian Foreign Ministry’s Facebook page was a tremendous help for aiding citizens during the flight traffic chaos caused by the ash cloud from the Icelandic volcano,” the secretary general said, giving an example of how ministries can use popular social media networks to their advantage.

While talking about the European Union External Action Service during the meeting with High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Catherine Ashton, Secretary General Kokk emphasised that it is necessary to fully take advantage of the opportunities that come with creating a foreign service, because only close and effective co-operation will ultimately ensure the member states’ interest and support for the External Action Service. In talking about the status of applications for the External Action Service, Kokk said that the decisions for delegation directors and deputy directors should be made public during the month of September. However, further rounds of applications for filling out the European External Action Service still lie ahead.

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