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Summary of the evening press conference, 24 March 2011

24.03.2011

Evening press conference of Foreign Minister Urmas Paet
24 March 2011


Foreign Minister:

Here is a short interim report on what's been going on today and where we are now. First of all, we still have not received any messages or signals from the ones that abducted the Estonian citizens. Therefore all the speculation that has spread throughout various media channels over the past day is merely speculation and nothing more. At the moment there is not a single theory that is factual and supported by evidence.

We have been in very close contact with the Lebanese side. Over the past night and day I have spoken on the phone with the Lebanese foreign minister and prime minister. Lebanon is taking this situation very seriously. The search to find the kidnapped people began last night already. Both the Lebanese foreign minister and other officials confirmed that no demands or messages have been received from the organisers and perpetrators of the abduction.

We are also co-operating closely with many other nations, both members of the European Union and members of NATO. Among others, I have spoken on the phone today with High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs Catherine Ashton and also with the foreign ministers of Turkey, France and Italy. Our people have also spoken with diplomats from many nations. We thank all the countries and organisations that have offered and provided their help.

Late tonight our diplomat will arrive in Beirut, whose task will be to immediately organise the ongoing rapid exchange of all possible information.

We have also been in regular contact with the families of those kidnapped. They have the opportunity to turn to us at any time with additional questions or to discuss their thoughts.

Currently our work continues, first and foremost as international co-operation with the goal of finding and freeing these individuals as quickly as possible.

Questions:

Who is the Estonian diplomat who will arrive in Beirut late tonight?

The diplomat being sent to Beirut is an experienced individual that has worked outside of Europe in Asia. Currently we do not want to divulge the name so that the diplomat has a chance to get settled, because first and foremost this person is an on-site contact.

If some kind of group or somebody were to take responsibility for the kidnapping and demand a ransom, what is Estonia's position on paying the ransom or negotiations on the matter?

First of all, I have already stated very clearly today that I am not going along with any speculation. I will not even begin to discuss one speculative theory or another, that what happens IF? It is clear that we need to move one step at a time, and if there is some kind of conrete and adequate information on the motive for the abduction, then it will be possible to look at possible solutions. As long as the motive for the kidnapping is not known, there is no point in discussing what we would do if A, B or C were to happen.

What authorities are being included other than the Estonian Foreign Ministry?

The crisis commission formed last night includes representatives of the appropriate departments of the Foreign Ministry, Ministry of the Interior, and Defence Ministry, and well as a representative of the State Chancellery
 

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