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Foreign Minister Urmas Paet: Estonia-France Relations Have Intensified Significantly

21.12.2011

No. 420-E

At his meeting in Paris yesterday with his French colleague Foreign Minister Alain Juppé, Foreign Minister Urmas Paet emphasised that over the past year relations between Estonia and France have significantly intensified. At their meeting the foreign ministers discussed bilateral political, security-related, and cultural co-operation as well as common interests in the European Union and NATO. French entrepreneurs’ interest towards investing in Estonia has also grown in recent years.

Paet highlighted successful co-operation with France in saving the Estonian citizens kidnapped in Lebanon and in the European Union anti-piracy operation ATALANTA. “The Estonian vessel protection unit has been participating in the European Union naval operation ATALANTA since May on board a French vessel,” said the foreign minister.

Foreign Minister Urmas Paet emphasised that the agreement on inter-governmental defence co-operation provides an opportunity to actively and substantially develop Estonia-France defence relations. “In addition to very good bilateral defence co-operation, Estonia and France have very similar interests in NATO. France has also carried out air policing over Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania on three occasions, and we would like for the air policing mission to continue in the future as well,” he added.

The ministers agreed that NATO activity in the field of cyber defence should be intensified. “Cyber defence must become a part of NATO’s everyday activities – early warnings, operational planning, developing capabilities, etc.,” said Foreign Minister Paet. He also invited France to join the NATO Cyber Defence Centre of Excellence in Tallinn.

Foreign Minister Paet stated that in order for the Eastern Partners to have as profound integration and co-operation with the EU as possible, the Eastern Partners need continued efforts as well as the openness and support of the EU. “Right now it is essential to continue with the association process, including wrapping up Association Agreement negotiations with Ukraine and starting negotiations for Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Agreements with Moldova and Georgia. We should also move forward with mobility, visa facilitation, and visa liberalisation,” Paet added. The Estonian Centre of Eastern Partnership focuses on increasing the administrative capacity of the Eastern Partnership countries.

Foreign Minister Paet thanked France for its support when Estonia applied for observer status in the International Organisation of the Francophonie. “Many cultural points of contact have formed between Estonia and the francophone cultural space. We feel it is important for international integration to be as close as possible; this include contacts with countries in the French cultural space,” he said. In October and November of this year the biggest Estonian cultural festival ever held, “Estonie Tonique”, took place in Paris and the surrounding areas.

The ministers also addressed the situations in Northern Africa and the Middle East as well as matters related to the European economy and the euro.

Photos: http://www.flickr.com/photos/estonian-foreign-ministry/6544212185/in/pho...

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