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Foreign Ministry’s Priority is Increasing Estonia’s Presence Abroad

21.02.2013

No 61-E

In his annual address to the Riigikogu on Estonia’s foreign policy today, Foreign Minister Urmas Paet emphasised that the Foreign Ministry’s priority is to continue increasing Estonia’s presence abroad to better protect and promote the interests of Estonia and its people. “Foreign policy serves the Estonian people. Internationally we strive for the same goals that we have set for Estonia, so that it would be safer and better to live in both Estonia and the whole world,” Paet emphasised.

The foreign minister noted that this year we hope to open our very own embassy building in Beijing this year, we just opened our embassy in India, and we are also sending a representative to Brazil who will make preparations for opening our embassy there. “With the opening of the India and Brazil representations, Estonia will have established its presence in the countries with the top ten economies in the world,” he said. Paet said that while currently close to 51% of Estonian export is tied to just four countries: Sweden, Finland, Russia and Latvia, the new representations lay the groundwork for diversifying this distribution.

It is also important for Estonia to be fully and effectively represented in international organisations, said the foreign minister. In addition to the European Union and NATO, he mentioned Estonia’s activities in the OECD as an example. “We are a fresh new member, but we will be the vice-chair of the Ministerial Council meeting taking place this year,” said Paet. The foreign minister said that this role will allow us to influence the work of the organisation and its image considerably more than usual. “One of the reasons we joined the OECD was that as a member we can more effectively stand for the liberal economic principles that have brought much success to our people and our country,” said Paet.

When opening new presentations, the Foreign Ministry gives much thought to matters related to the consular sector. “New representations have given us the opportunity to provide better consular services in even more places,” the foreign minister explained. Last year the number of visas issued and consular services provided both increased remarkably. “Visas issued increased by 21% and consular procedures by nearly 35%,” Paet noted. “We increasingly utilise our network of honorary consuls and the opportunities provided by visa representation agreements. The number of countries where Estonia does not have a representative is diminishing,” he added. The foreign minister also confirmed that Estonia is looking for additional opportunities to expand co-operation with European Union countries.

Paet also noted that in order to protect Estonians’ interests abroad, the Foreign Ministry works daily to raise peoples’ travel-related awareness. “We invest in activities that help Estonians avoid potential problems while abroad. For example, we have expanded the use of IT solutions to ensure peoples’ safety,” he stated.

Full text of the address: http://www.vm.ee/?q=en/node/16553

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press@mfa.ee
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