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Foreign Minister Urmas Paet: Afghanistan is Important Development Co-operation Priority Partner for Estonia


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Today Foreign Minister Urmas Paet met with Catriona Laing, the head of the Provincial Reconstruction Team (PRT) in the capital of Helmand Province Lashkar Gah. “Due to the reduction of foreign troops, civilian co-operation and development aid play an increasingly important role in building up Afghanistan and supporting the development of the country,” Paet emphasised.

Foreign Minister Paet stated that the goal of development aid is to make the reforms that have been carried out in Afghanistan irreversible and help the country reach the stage where Afghans can manage affairs in their country. Over the past many years Estonia has contributed first and foremost to building up the health care and education sectors in Helmand. “Our goal has been to enable as many women and children here as possible to get better health care and education than before,” said Paet.

From 2008-2012, Estonia has sent four experts to the British-led PRT. “We hope that our contribution to the co-ordination of international development co-operation projects and the development of the health care sector in Helmand Province have borne fruit and that the local community will soon take responsibility for health care issue entirely onto themselves,” stated the foreign minister.

In talking about future co-operation opportunities, Paet noted that this year Estonia would like to send one of its experts to join Great Britain’s Department of International Development (DFID) team in Kabul. Estonia will also continue contributing to the NATO Training Mission (NTM-A) and the EU Police Mission (EUPOL) in 2013 – currently there are four Estonian experts in each mission.

At his meeting with Laing, Foreign Minister Paet also confirmed that Afghanistan remains one of Estonia’s development co-operation priority countries and this year we will contribute 1.4 million euros to development co-operation in Afghanistan. “In our development co-operation activities, we give particular attention to standing for the rights of women and children, since they are the most vulnerable groups in the country. Therefore there are many activities that Estonia will continue supporting in the future that focus on improving the situation of women and children,” Paet explained.

At the meeting, Paet also gave an overview of Estonia’s biggest ongoing bilateral development co-operation projects, which are Tallinn University’s project to develop an IT-related master’s programme at Kabul University; the Estonian School of Diplomacy’s project, within the framework of which short training courses are carried out for Afghan diplomats; and the project of the NPO Mondo, which involves holding various types of training courses in rural areas in Afghanistan. “We also welcome Afghan officials in Estonia to become acquainted with Estonia’s e-state concept projects,” he added.

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