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Estonian and Finnish Foreign Ministers Agree to Closer Co-operation Between Ministries


No 317-E

Today in Tallinn Foreign Minister Urmas Paet and Finnish Foreign Minister Erkki Tuomioja agreed to send a Finnish exchange diplomat to the Estonian Embassy in Georgia. “The agreement we concluded is a good example of the effective and practical co-operation between the foreign ministries of Estonia and Finland. An Estonian diplomat has earlier worked in the Finnish Embassy in Lusaka, Zambia in a similar exchange,” said Foreign Minister Paet.

At their meeting, the foreign ministers expressed their satisfaction over the ongoing growth in Estonia-Finland trade. “Finland remains Estonia’s greatest trade partner and we are pleased to see that Finnish entrepreneurs’ interest in the Estonian market continues to grow,” said Paet. Trade with Finland makes up 14% of Estonia’s total trade turnover.

Foreign Minister Paet said that both countries share common interests in the region, the European Union, and in various international forums. “We are happy to see closer co-operation and overlapping interests in regional transport and energy issues,” Paet added. Finnish has announced that it will participate in the Rail Baltic task force.

Paet and Tuomioja noted that the legal assistance agreement that came into force this summer has significantly simplified the bureaucracy and lowered costs for both Estonian and Finnish citizens. In accordance with the agreement, documents from the population registries are reciprocally recognised without an apostille.

In talking about the conflict in Syria, Paet and Tuomioja condemned the continuation of violence and emphasised that the international community must do everything possible to end the violence in Syria. “The continuing violence in Syria is unacceptable; all armed activity in Syria must stop. Investigations should also begin into possible crimes against humanity and violations of human rights committed during the conflict,“ said Paet. Last weekend the European Union foreign ministers enforced stricter sanctions against the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and increased aid for alleviating the humanitarian crisis. Paet stated that Estonia participated in the Syria supervision mission UNSMIS and if necessary is prepared to support the UN’s ongoing presence in Syria, which will help facilitate a peaceful transition in the country.

According to Paet, Estonia would also like to develop co-operation with Finland within the UN, for example in the areas of humanitarian co-operation, peacekeeping, sustainable development, human rights, international law, and the work of the International Criminal Court. “Co-operation with Finland and the other Nordic and Baltic countries is essential, especially in light of the Nordic region’s UN philosophy and the understanding that small countries working together within an international organisation can bring significant added value,” Paet said. He added that Estonia values Finland’s support for Estonia’s candidature to be a member of the UN Human Rights Council from 2013-2015. The elections will take place on 12 November 2012.

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