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Foreign Minister Urmas Paet: The European Union and the States of the Eastern Partnership Must Strive to Take Relations to a New Level

03.09.2013

 

Today, in a meeting in Gotland with the foreign ministers of Sweden, Finland, Denmark, Norway, Iceland, Lithuania, and Latvia, Foreign Minister Urmas Paet said that a new level must quickly be reached with the European Union’s Eastern Partnership.

“We emphasise importance on the concluding of association agreements including a deep and comprehensive free trade agreements between Moldova, Georgia, Armenia, and Ukraine and the European Union as well as the further practical application of those agreements,” declared Paet. “The signing of association agreements creates new opportunities for the spread of common values and the European Union, not just the partner countries, must strive for this end,” said the Estonian foreign minister. Additionally, progress towards visa freedom must be accelerated, he added.  

The Nordic and Baltic foreign ministers released a joint statement declaring that the economic or political pressure put on the states of the Eastern Partnership by third countries is not acceptable. “States themselves must be able to choose what is best for their future.”

Important topics in regional energy cooperation include the construction of a gas interconnection between Poland and Lithuania, the renewal of Latvian underground gas storage, the construction of a regional Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) terminal on the shore of the Gulf of Finland, and the construction of the gas pipeline Baltic Connector between Estonia and Finland. “Estonia considers it important to diversify sources of supply, ensure new providers’ access to the energy market, guarantee security of supply for all countries in the region, and to create a common energy market in the European Union,” noted Paet.

In the opinion of the foreign ministers, Nordic-Baltic cooperation has been very successful. “Nordic and Baltic countries are not connected by merely pragmatic interests in the region, but also common values and support for democracy and human rights around the world,” stressed Paet. “By jointly expressing our positions on international topics, we can be more visible and capable in foreign policy.”

Estonia will take over the coordination of Nordic-Baltic cooperation from Sweden in the beginning of 2014. “During the Baltic Sea Year, we want to focus on cohesion and use IT solutions optimally to achieve that,” remarked Foreign Minister Paet. “As a new domain, Estonia would like to promote increased cooperation in the cyber security field,” said Paet. He added that Estonia also prioritizes the development of business and cultural diplomacy, relations with the Eastern Partership, and infrastructure.

Estonia will also continue to promote cooperation between the Nordic-Baltic countries and the Visegrad four – the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, and Slovakia.

For Estonia, 2014 will be Baltic Sea Year because Estonia will be leading Baltic cooperation, Nordic-Baltic cooperation, and also, beginning in July 2014, the Council of the Baltic Sea States. In addition, the year 2014 has been declared the Gulf of Finland Year in the trilateral environmental cooperation between Estonia, Finland, and Russia.

 

 

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