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Foreign Minister Urmas Paet and EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Catherine Ashton Discussed the Situations in Syria and Egypt

28.08.2013

Today, in a meeting in Tallinn with the High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Catherine Ashton, Foreign Minister Urmas Paet discussed the situations in Syria and Egypt as well as questions regarding EU defence policy.

Foreign Minister Urmas Paet and High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Catherine Ashton expressed concerns regarding events in Syria and Egypt. According to Paet, Estonia categorically condemns the use of a chemical weapon in Syria. “We consider it necessary to rapidly conduct an extensive investigation by UN experts present in Syria,“ remarked Paet. “Also, it is important to continue humanitarian assistance and support of Syria’s neighbours because their ability to support Syrian refugees has long been depleted. Considering the unprecedented scale of human rights violations, it is necessary to continue the promotion of human rights among Syrian government forces as well as the opposition,” added Paet.

In solving the conflict in Egypt, Foreign Minister Paet considers it necessary to involve all political factions in dialogue and in the process of restoring democratic institutions. “It is essential to make efforts to preserve civilian lives and restrain the further spread of violence, which could cause unexpected consequences and even bring about civil war. All sides must struggle in the name of a peaceful solution,” added Paet.

Foreign Minister Paet stressed the importance of European Union support in the conduct of the April 2014 elections in Afghanistan. “We hope that the elections will be free and fair, which is an important condition for the continuation of international development assistance,” stressed Paet.

For Estonia, contributing to military, civilian, and development cooperation in Afghanistan has been a longstanding priority. “Support will certainly continue even after the departure of NATO and international security assistance forces,” said Paet. He added that the European Union must continue to develop and strengthen Afghanistan’s judiciary and civilian police. “Estonia also supports the continuation of the European Union’s police mission, EUPOL Afghanistan, after 2014 in Kabul as well as in the provinces with the assumption that the security of the mission will be assured,” noted Foreign Minister Paet. Estonia participates in the EU police mission and NATO training mission with 8 experts.

When discussing European Union defence, other topics that were mentioned included promotion of cyber security cooperation, EU battlegroups, the EU mission in Mali, and strengthening the relationship with Eastern partners. According to Paet, cyber security must play an important role in the common foreign and security policy. “We would like closer cooperation internally in the European Union as well as between the EU and the United States,” added Paet.

Commenting on the capability of the EU to respond rapidly to crisis situations, Paet noted the EU battlegroups create that possibility. “We hope to expand cooperation in this field with the EU and Eastern partners and involve them on common ground, especially in operations and battlegroups. Additionally, collaboration in the area of security and defence policy should encompass a broader political-military and civilian dialogue and initiate the process of assisting security sector reform in partner countries,” added Foreign Minister Paet.

According to Paet, when considering the stability and welfare of the European Union neighbourhood it is necessary to emphasize the importance of the Eastern Partnership. “In late November in Vilnius, at the high-level meeting of the European Union Eastern Partnership, it will be necessary to provide a clear outlook to the partner countries about the usefulness of the Eastern Partnership as a vehicle to move in the direction of the EU,” remarked Paet when discussing the upcoming high-level Eastern Partnership meeting in Vilnius on November 28-29th. Estonia hopes that the high-level meeting will involve the signature of an Association Agreement with Ukraine which will include a profound and all-encompassing free trade area, as well as the initialing of similar agreements with Moldova, Georgia, and Armenia.

Paet and Ashton also spoke about the building-up process and current state of the European External Action Service, the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership talks between the European Union and the United States, and EU human rights policies. 
 

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