Foreign minister Urmas Paet discussed the security situation in Europe with UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon


At today's meeting in New York with UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, foreign minister Urmas Paet stressed the UN's active role in resolving the crisis in Ukraine and in helping to decrease further tensions in the situation there. Paet met Ban Ki-moon in Tallinn in November of last year, when the UN Secretary-General was visiting Estonia for the first time.

Russia's aggression against sovereign Ukraine is unacceptable, said Paet. "Similarly, Russia's next steps regarding Ukraine – the organising of an illegal referendum to merge Crimea with Russia, as well as the refusal to allow international observers to Crimea – have overly strained the situation. This has a direct impact on the security of Europe as a whole," he added.

According to Paet, the UN must insist on international observers being allowed into different regions of Ukraine. "This is the only way to contribute to the prevention of the further escalation of tensions," Paet said.

Paet confirmed that Estonia does not recognize the referendum to join Russia to be carried out in Crimea, because it is contrary to the Constitution of Ukraine and it is to be carried out in a situation where Russian troops are present in the region.

"Ukraine's constitution clearly states that issues concerning amendments to the territory of the state must be decided in a nationwide referendum," Paet reiterated. 
Paet said that we must demand the annulment of the decision of the Russian parliament, which approves the use of its military across Ukraine.

Paet also drew attention to the abuse of journalists and restrictions on freedom of the media in Crimea. "Attacks on journalists and the closing of media outlets must be stopped," he added.

Estonia has currently supported victims of the unrest in Ukraine with a total of 85 000 euros.

Developments in the Central African Republic and Syria were also discussed at the meeting. "The emergence of new conflicts cannot take attention away from conflicts that have been ongoing for a longer period of time," Paet noted. "Estonia has decided to contribute up to 55 members of its Defence Forces to the Central African Republic and one civil bomb disposal expert," he remarked.

Speaking about the conflict in Syria which began three years ago today, Paet said that the situation continues to be extremely worrying. According to Paet, Estonia considers the humanitarian resolution to help alleviate the crisis in Syria adopted by the UN Security Council at the end of February to be positive. "The priority now is to implement the resolution and the parties must ensure the complete and unobstructed access of humanitarian aid to all areas of Syria," the foreign minister said. "The stability of the countries surrounding Syria is also very important," Paet said.

Foreign minister Paet emphasized that as a member of the UN Human Rights Council and founding member of the Freedom Online Coalition, Estonia as a country stands for the fact that freedom of expression, like other fundamental rights, are guaranteed in both the public sphere as well as in cyberspace. "We want to work closely with other nations and international initiatives that stand for the same values," he said. Estonia is the current chair of the Freedom Online Coalition and in the end of April, the coalition's annual conference "Free and Secure Internet for All", will take place in Tallinn, where a high-level UN representation is also awaited.


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