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Foreign Minister Urmas Paet Spoke with British Foreign Secretary about the Future of the European Union and the Detainment of Estonian and British Citizens in India

16.01.2014

Nr 11-E

At a meeting in London, Foreign Minister Urmas Paet and British Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs William Hague discussed the possible future scenarios of the European Union, the detainment of Estonia and British citizens in India, and cooperation in the field of defence and security.

According to Paet, a strong and open European Union that is capable of development is in Estonia’s interest. “We understand the importance of reforms, because we need a better and more competitive Europe,” he noted. The foreign minister added that an important foundation of a strong European Union is a functional single market, including a digital single market.

Foreign Secretary Hague also confirmed at the meeting that the United Kingdom considers the development of the European Union’s single market to be important. “In addition to the single market, Estonia and the United Kingdom both consider economic growth, creating new jobs as well as promoting innovation, and signing trade agreements with rapidly developing third countries to be important,” said Foreign Minister Paet.

Questions associated with the free movement of people, which have become prominent in the last few months, were also discussed at the meeting. Paet stressed that Estonia is a strong supporter of the free movement of people, which is one of the fundamental freedoms of the European Union. “It is an extremely important and unique quality and at the same time a foundation of the functioning of the European Union. However, EU member states can make changes in their social security systems,” he noted. The foreign minister added that, in questions regarding the free movement of people, it is important to focus on practical cooperation and avoid antagonism between EU member states.

At the meeting, Paet and Hague also spoke about the 35 crew members on board a vessel belonging to the company AdvanFort that were detained near the coast of India last October and discussed opportunities for cooperation. “Estonia and the United Kingdom will continue to work together closely on this matter, in order to contribute to solving the situation,” stated Foreign Minister Paet.

The Estonian foreign minister and the British foreign secretary also discussed security topics, including the NATO Summit taking place in Wales in the fall. “At the NATO Summit, it will be important to convey the message that after the end of the alliance’s largest mission in Afghanistan, NATO will continue to be a strong, active, and effective organisation,” said Paet.

It is important that NATO continues to focus on its primary mission, the defence of the alliance, in the future as well. “The best way to do so is to continue strengthening the interoperability of the allies and continue developing partnership relations with active and capable partners,” he explained.

Paet and Hague also agreed at the meeting that NATO’s ability to adapt to new challenges and develop the appropriate capabilities is also important. “We hope that an updated cyber defence policy, the establishment of a consultation mechanism between allies, and a broad-based plan to carry out cyber exercises will be important conclusions at the summit,” said the Estonian foreign minister.

Foreign Minister Paet also thanked the United Kingdom for the excellent years-long cooperation in Afghanistan. “Estonian forces will stay in Afghanistan with British units until the end of this summer’s presidential elections,” he stated. Paet added that Estonia is interested in continuing bilateral defence-related cooperation with the United Kingdom even after the end of the mission in Afghanistan.

When speaking about bilateral relations, the ministers spoke at length about cyber cooperation and collaboration in the field of e-state services. The foreign minister expressed satisfaction about the United Kingdom’s decision to join the NATO Cooperative Cyber Defence Centre of Excellence in Tallinn. “It is also positive that concrete practical cooperation is developing in the e-state field. For example, the United Kingdom is interested in Estonia’s X-Road solution and the state portal eesti.ee,” said Paet. “It’s in Estonia’s interest for a solution like X-Road to find broader use in Europe and contribute to the development of pan-European e-services and the digital single market,” he explained.

Estonia and the United Kingdom are also outspoken advocates of internet freedom and belong to the Freedom Online Coalition (FOC). This year, Estonia is the chairman of the FOC and will host the coalition’s annual conference in Tallinn this April, which the foreign minister also invited his British counterpart to attend.

Photos of the meeting: http://www.flickr.com/photos/estonian-foreign-ministry/sets/721576398245...

Helen Rits
Spokesperson
Embassy of Estonia in London
+44 79 2019 7993    

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