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Foreign Ministers of Estonia and Luxembourg: Consular Co-operation Among Baltic and Benelux Countries Sets Example for Whole European Union

12.03.2013

No 92-E

During his meeting with Foreign Minister of Luxembourg Jean Asselborn in Tallinn today, Foreign Minister Urmas Paet said that Estonia’s co-operation with Luxembourg and more broadly with all the Benelux countries as well as Latvia and Lithuania has led to particularly useful co-operation in the consular sector. “We would like for the European Union to see our example and begin thinking about how important and necessary it is to intensify consular co-operation in the European Union in general,” Paet noted.

Foreign Minister Urmas Paet stated that the co-operation among Estonia, Luxembourg, Belgium, the Netherlands, Latvia and Lithuania in the consular sector has brought about many practical activities. “We work together on new initiatives that help to increase the accessibility of consular services and aid for our citizens,” said Paet. The foreign minister said that the three primary areas of co-operation are crisis co-operation, joint visa centres, and taking biometric identifiers from the citizens of other countries. “Estonia is prepared to represent Luxembourg for the issuing of visas in Sydney,” he noted.

During their meeting, the foreign ministers also talked about matters related to the European Union’s Common Security and Defence Policy. Paet emphasised that a strong, visible, and credible European Union in all areas, including security and defence policy, is in Estonia’s interests.

Paet and Asselborn also addressed opportunities to intensify bilateral relations between the countries. The Estonian foreign minister said that Luxembourg is interested in development information technology co-operation with us. “For example, Luxembourg is interested in our ID card and internet banking solutions,” said Paet. The foreign minister thanked Luxembourg for its financial contribution to the air policing mission over Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania and invited Luxembourg to join the NATO Cyber Defence Centre in Tallinn.

In talking about international developments, the foreign ministers emphasised the ongoing need to find a solution to the Syria crisis. “We support the work of Special Representative Brahimi in resolving the crisis and his proposals on the subject,” said Paet. The foreign minister pointed out that in addition to finding a political solution to the crisis we must also address the issue of Syrian refugees, which is becoming more serious by the day. “The number of refugees in Syria’s neighbouring countries now exceeds a million, and this has a significant effect on the entire region,” he added.

At their meeting, the foreign ministers also talked about matters related to Afghanistan and the fact that the country needs the firm support of the international community even after 2014. The ministers also touched on the subjects of Eastern Partnership as well as the situations in Ukraine and Russia.

Photos from the meeting: http://www.flickr.com/photos/estonian-foreign-ministry/sets/721576329790...

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