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Foreign Minister Urmas Paet: Strong Transport and Energy Connections With Other Baltic Sea States are Vital to Future of Estonia

17.04.2013

Nr 128-E

While opening of the 9th international transit conference TRANSESTONIA 2013 today, Foreign Minister Urmas Paet said that Estonia’s transport and energy connections with other countries in the Baltic Sea region are of vital importance to the future of Estonia.

Paet said that today Estonia is the most integrated country in the Baltic Sea region, being a member of the European Union, NATO, euro zone, Schengen area, and the OECD. “Within 24 hours, goods sent from Estonia can reach 50 million consumers and within 48 hours, 300 million consumers,” he noted. “Estonia is not just a good transport channel, it is also a good distribution centre and a place that gives goods added value. Estonia has the easternmost sea port in the European Union.”

The type of railway tracks used in Estonia allow for goods to be transported from here directly to the east. In addition, in rail transport there is electronic data exchange, which allows goods to be pre-declared at customs; this saves time and therefore also costs. “However, Estonia and the region as a whole still need Rail Baltic, which would ensure an even better connection with Western Europe,” said Paet.

In talking about energy, Paet noted that energy raw material supplies in Europe are scarce and that the European Union’s dependence on oil and gas imports is growing rapidly. “It is projected that the union’s dependence on imported energy will grow from the current 50% to 65% by the year 2030, and the International Energy Agency predicts that energy use will rise by a third due to improvements in quality of life in China, India, the Middle East, and elsewhere,” the foreign minister stated. He added that it is important for Europe to be open to new solutions in order to diversify energy sources.

The foreign minister said that for Estonia, energy supply security first and foremost means the development of infrastructure – networking and diversifying supply sources. “It is essential for regional energy and transport connectedness to function even better – these efforts would surely also benefit the Estonian logistics sector,” he stated. “In the electricity sector we have developed co-operation across the Gulf of Finland and we have the functioning Estlink 1 connection between Estonia and Finland. Progress has also been made with Estlink 2, which will be ready in 2014.”

Currently Estonia is still an energy island when it comes to the gas market. “Re-organising the gas market is necessary in order to ensure competitiveness, better prices, freedom of choice, and our energy security,” said Paet. “Step by step Estonia is becoming better integrated with both the Nordic-Baltic energy market as well as the European Union’s internal energy market – we are also joining the International Energy Agency, so that we can be a part of international co-operation in the name of ensuring energy supplies.” He added that the launching of a regional gas market for the Baltic states and Finland requires the creation of a liquefied natural gas terminal.

The measure of the sustainability of a logistics sector in the future and already today is its environmental suitability. “High safety standards, thorough planning, and a high level of technology should become indivisible parts of our logistics sector, for that is the only way we will be competitive when more and more attention is given to the sustainability and environmental safety of solutions,” said Paet. “Our logistics sector is tied to the Baltic Sea, an excellent waterway. The Baltic Sea must remain our home sea even with increasing maritime traffic, more complex cargo, and climate conditions,” he added. According to Paet, Estonia sets an example for others with its environmental measures. “Partners from the USA to Jordan are interested in our oil shale technology, which is getting cleaner and more sustainable,” he stated. “Sustainable development is ever more important against the backdrop of the recent economic and debt crisis. There can be no development other than sustainable development.”

The theme of the transit conference TRANSESTONIA 2013 is “Oil. Gas. Chemicals”. Additional information on the conference: http://www.transestonia.ee/index.php

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