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Foreign Minister Urmas Paet at Meeting With Bulgarian Foreign Minister: Honest Parliamentary Elections Confirm Strength of Democracy in Georgia

05.10.2012

Nr 356-E

At their meeting in Tallinn today, Foreign Minister Urmas Paet and Bulgarian Foreign Minister Nikolay Mladenov discussed recent developments in Georgia. Paet stated that the parliamentary elections in Georgia confirm the strength of its democracy and its desire to continue working together with the EU and NATO. “The elections were a very important intermediate step in Georgia achieving its goals and developing democracy,” stated the foreign minister. Paet expressed hope that a visa waiver action plan could be approved this year and that negotiations for an Association Agreement between the EU and Georgia would be finished next year.

The Estonian and Bulgarian foreign ministers asserted that the elections soon to take place in Ukraine are of key importance to the future relations of Ukraine and the EU. “Ukraine carrying out reforms and respecting democracy, human rights, and rule of law is a requirement for integration with the EU,” he added. Paet and Mladenov expressed their satisfaction over developments in Moldova and agreed that forward progress should be made in the EU-Moldova visa dialogue.

The ministers discussed preparations and co-operation for the presidency of the European Union in 2018, when Estonia and Bulgaria will be the EU presidency states.

Bulgaria wishes to join the Schengen area. Foreign Minister Paet stated that both Bulgaria and Romania fulfil all the requirements for joining the Schengen zone. “Hopefully both countries will become members of the Schengen zone soon,” he added.

In talking about energy policy, Foreign Minister Paet noted that the European Union must speak with a unified voice when talking to third countries, including Russia, about energy issues. “Energy plays an important role in the political dialogue between the European Union and third countries, so we must take into consideration the interests and experiences of all member states,” Paet said. It is also important that businesses participating in the EU internal market fulfil the requirements set forth by EU law. “The requirements set forth for companies on the EU energy market apply to everyone, no exceptions,” headed.

Paet said that the Baltic energy market has developed successfully. “In addition to the Estlink-1 connection between Estonia and Finland, Estlink-2 should be completed within the next few years. After the NordBalt connection between Sweden and Lithuania is completed, a complete Baltic Sea electricity ring will be in effect,” added Foreign Minister Paet. Paet mentioned that Estonia is also working on reforming gas management to create opportunities for new suppliers.

Paet and Mladenov discussed the further enlargement of the European Union and the Western Balkan countries. Paet emphasised that it is important to move forward in the enlargement process with those countries that have made progress, and for this a strong signal must be given in the enlargement package being presented in the European Commission on 10 October. “We await a message on the continuation of enlargement policy in accordance with earlier principles. Countries that have made progress must be able to make corresponding steps forward in the accession process,” Paet said.

At their meeting they also talked about the further enlargement of NATO and opportunities for co-operation in the organisation. Paet invited Bulgaria to join the activities of the NATO Cyber Defence centre as an official member. 

In regards to bilateral relations, the foreign ministers discussed co-operation opportunities in the IT sector. Paet said that Estonia is ready for e-governance-related co-operation with Bulgaria. In order to intensify Estonia-Bulgaria relations, Estonia would like to appoint an honorary consul in the city of Burgas in addition to its honorary consul in Sofia, Paet stated.

The Estonian and Bulgarian foreign ministers condemned Syria’s attack on Turkey as well as the ongoing violence within Syria. “The international community must continue to demand that the parties to the Syrian conflict end their violent actions immediately and achieve a cease-fire,” emphasised Foreign Minister Paet.

Photos of the foreign ministers’ meeting: http://tinyurl.com/8phdgca

 

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