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Foreign Minister Urmas Paet: Estonia to Intensify Relations with Asian Countries

31.05.2012

No. 152-E

During a discussion in Riigikogu today on Estonia’s policies towards Asia, Foreign Minister Urmas Paet said that by developing its relations with Asian countries Estonia hopes to increase its security and economic well-being, spread democratic views and human rights, promote the interests of citizens and companies, and increase Estonia’s influence and good reputation in the world.

The opportunities arising from Asia’s economic ascent and the rise in the region’s global significance should be used as much as possible to promote Estonia’s economic interests, said Foreign Minister Paet. “Estonia’s economic interests are becoming more closely tied with promoting business and development activity in the direction of Asia. We hope to find new measures to expand export opportunities to Asian countries with the help of the government’s programme for economic relations with Asia, which should be ready soon,” Paet stated.

The Foreign Ministry will continue to support Estonian companies in gaining access to new markets through business diplomacy. “We have increased Estonia’s representation in Asian countries, expanded our network of honorary consuls, and included business delegations in visits whenever possible. In the economic realm we are also working on developing our agreement base, for example by concluding agreements for the prevention of double taxation,” said Paet. The foreign minister added that the Foreign Ministry co-operates with all interested departments and institutions, such as Enterprise Estonia.

In terms of Estonia’s economy, it is important to give attention to creating transportation links and developing co-operation in the areas of tourism, culture, education, and science. “The potential of Estonian ports and airports to develop transport to Asia is great, and on the state level we support businesses that are interested in utilising these opportunities,” said the foreign minister.

Through bilateral relations with Asian countries Estonia would like to increase China and India’s interest in our region, find new investment opportunities, and intensify economic relations. “A meeting of a joint Estonia-China economic commission to intensify investment, transport and tourism relations is scheduled to take place in Tallinn this fall. We plan to open an embassy in New Delhi by the end of this year in order to strengthen business ties and promote educational and cultural contacts,” Paet stated.

Paet asserted that Estonia is also dedicating more attention to communication with countries in South-East and Central Asia with an eye on economic and security interests. “This year we are naming ambassadors residing in Tallinn to some South-East Asian countries. We also opened an embassy in Astana,” he added.

Paet said that the European Union wants to keep intensifying relations with the leading Asian countries – China, India, Japan, Indonesia, and South Korea. “Our goal is to take maximum advantage of all the co-operation formats between the European Union and Asian countries to achieve Estonia’s foreign policy and economic goals. On the international communication level we are striving for more co-operation between Asia and Europe, for example in developing e-states, battling cyber crime, and in internet freedom,” he said.

In talking about security issues, the foreign minister noted that the peaceful and conflict-free development of Asia is in the interests of Estonia and the entire international community. “The nuclear ambitions of North Korea and Iran put a strain on relations in the region and could fundamentally change the prospects for the region’s positive economic development. We are certain that the existing issues can be resolved though the co-operation of countries in the region and the international community. It would be a great help if Asian countries were better represented in the UN Security Council,” Paet noted, adding that Estonia supports India and Japan’s efforts to become permanent members of the UN Security Council.

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