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Foreign Minister Urmas Paet in London: A Strong and Functioning European Union and Euro Zone Are in Estonia’s Interests

05.02.2013

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While talking about developments in the European Union during his meeting with Foreign Minister of Great Britain William Hague in London today, Foreign Minister Urmas Paet said that a strong and functioning European Union and euro zone are in Estonia’s interests. “At the same time, Estonia understands the importance of reforms, since we need a better, more competitive Europe that is closer to its citizens,” Paet emphasised.

Foreign Minister Paet stated that one essential pillar of a strong European Union is a well-functioning internal market, including a digital internal market. “Together we must make an effort to turn the potential of a single market into a functioning reality that raises the competitiveness of the EU,” said Paet.

During the meeting, Foreign Minister Hague confirmed that Great Britain, like Estonia, would like to develop the European Union’s single internal market. “In addition to a single market, we also feel that economic growth, creating new jobs, facilitating innovation, and concluding trade agreements with rapidly developing third countries is important,” said Paet, listing more examples of Estonia and Great Britain’s common interests in the EU.

When talking about the upcoming European Council, Paet and Hague also noted that they expect that an agreement will be reached regarding the European Union’s next budgetary period. “We hope that an agreement will be reached,” said the Estonian foreign minister.

Paet and Hague discussed the situation in Afghanistan and the need to expand civilian co-operation and development aid geared towards the country. “We have worked well together with Great Britain in Helmand Province for many years, and we would like to continue that co-operation in a new form after the removal of troops. For example, this year there are plans to send an Estonian expert to join Great Britain’s Department for International Development in Kabul,” said Paet. The foreign minister also confirmed that Afghanistan remains a development co-operation priority partner for Estonia and this year we will increase our support for Afghanistan even more.

Paet added that considering Estonia and Great Britain’s close ties in Afghanistan, the countries must also co-ordinate the reduction of their troops in Helmand Province.

In talking about bilateral relations between Estonia and Great Britain, the ministers discussed intensifying co-operation related to cyber security and e-state matters. The foreign minister expressed satisfaction over Great Britain’s decision to join the NATO Cyber Defence Centre of Excellence in Tallinn. “When Great Britain and France have joined, all the countries that are deeply involved in the cyber security question in NATO will be represented at the Cyber Defence Centre,” Paet said. The foreign minister also noted that Estonia would like to work more closely with Great Britain in strengthening the EU’s cyber security.

Paet stated that co-operation between Estonia and Great Britain in the realm of e-state activities  also holds great potential. “Estonia has a lot in common with Great Britain in terms of its approach to developing an information society. We think it would be useful to exchange experts, hold training sessions, and conduct joint pilot projects in, for example, the areas of electronic identity and e-health,” he stated. Paet added that the Estonian Foreign Ministry is interested in the activities of British diplomats in the digital diplomacy realm.

At their meeting, the foreign ministers also discussed the situation in Mali. “It is essential to successfully ward off the rebels and restore the political process in the country. We would like for the European Union’s military training mission to head to Mali as soon as possible,” said Paet. The foreign minister added that Estonia recognises Great Britain, France, and other European Union member states as well as countries in Western Africa that have made a contribution and taken decisive action in this critical situation.

The foreign ministers of Estonia and Great Britain also discussed the situation in Syria and matters related to the Middle East peace process.

 

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