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Foreign Minister Urmas Paet: Estonia Welcomes Its Close Partner Iceland into European Union

22.08.2011

During his meeting today with Icelandic Foreign Minister Össur Skarphéðinsson, Foreign Minister Urmas Paet emphasised the special relationship between Estonia and Iceland and confirmed Estonia’s readiness to help Iceland with its accession to the European Union.

Foreign Minister Paet stated that Iceland played a special role in Estonia’s return to the international community 20 years ago. “Iceland’s quick decision to recognise the restoration of Estonia’s independence was a historical turning point -- the decision paved the way for a lot of other countries to recognise Estonia as an independent nation once again,” he stated.

Paet said that this coming Sunday, when Iceland will be in focus all over the city of Tallinn, is a day dedicated to the special relationship between the nations and Iceland’s role in recognising Estonia’s restored independence.

Iceland recognised Estonia’s independence on 22 August 1991 and established diplomatic relations with Estonia on 26 August.

Paet and Skarphéðinsson discussed the status of Iceland’s accession negotiations with the European Union. The EU would like to conclude the accession negotiations started on 16 July of this year by the middle of 2013. “Iceland sets a good example for other candidate states striving to join the European Union,” Paet emphasised. “We welcome Iceland to the European Union and are ready to support them with experts and share our accession experiences. It is positive that European Union enlargement is continuing in Northern Europe as well,” Paet asserted.

In April of 2010 Estonia organised a seminar for Icelandic state officials that addressed sectors important to EU accession such as agriculture, structural funds, public informing, and regional and environmental policy.

Foreign Minister Paet invited Iceland to join the work of the NATO Co-operative Cyber Defence Centre of Excellence. “This would give both Estonia and Iceland an opportunity to expand and intensify their co-operation in bilateral and multilateral cyber defence,” stated the foreign minister. The foreign ministers also discussed matters related to the NATO air policing policy and the mission in Afghanistan.

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