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Foreign Minister Urmas Paet in Slovakia: European Union Still Attractive to New Aspirants to Join

01.12.2011

No. 384-E

Today Foreign Minister Urmas Paet together with Slovakian Foreign Minister Mikuláš Dzurinda opened Estonia’s first honorary consulate in Slovakia in Bratislava. “Honorary consuls hold a special importance for Estonia, especially in countries where we don’t have an embassy,” Paet stated. “Business diplomacy is becoming a more and more important aspect of foreign communication, and a network of active honorary consuls helps a small country find friends and business partners,” the foreign minister added. The Estonian honorary consul in Slovakia is Peter Pochaba, who is a well-known and well-connected entrepreneur in Slovakia.

Foreign Minister Paet emphasised that Estonia and Slovakia have similar views and positions on many international issues.

When talking about further European Union enlargement, Foreign Minister Urmas Paet expressed hope that finishing negotiations with Croatia would set a positive example to the other Western Balkan countries for EU integration. “The examples of Iceland and Croatia demonstrate that the EU’s enlargement policy is in effect and will inspire others to take necessary steps and continue making reforms,” stated the Estonian foreign minister. Paet added that regardless of the European Union’s internal issues, the EU has not become less attractive to potential new members. “At least 11 countries would like to accede to the EU in the near future,” he added. Paet said that the decisions should still be made this year regarding giving candidate status to Serbia and starting accession negotiations with Montenegro. Encouragement must also be given to Albania and Bosnia and Herzegovina to continue making reforms. It is also essential to give Macedonia the opportunity to begin accession negotiations.

Foreign Minister Paet stated that both Estonia and Slovakia feel it is important for a long-term solution to be found for the NATO air policing mission on the level of the alliance. “It is in our interests to have the support of alliance members for continuing the mission after the year 2018,” he said.

In talking about energy security, Paet noted that a dependence on imported energy should not lead to energy security problems. “Therefore it is essential to address the development of gas and electrical connections in Europe,” he added.

The foreign ministers of Slovakia and Estonia also discussed the economic situation in Europe, matters related to the euro zone, and economic and financial policy.

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