Foreign Minister Urmas Paet: Closer Nordic-Baltic Co-operation Helps to Increase the Competitiveness and Visibility of the Entire Region
Foreign Minister Urmas Paet met with the Foreign Minister of Denmark, Villy Søvndal, and discussed issues of Nordic-Baltic (NB8 – Nordic-Baltic 8) co-operation. “Estonia highly values Nordic-Baltic co-operation and by intensifying our current comprehensive dialogue we could increase the competitiveness and visibility of the entire region,” Paet said.
According to Paet, the NB8 co-operation has resulted in several practical initiatives that provide additional value. “A positive example is a diplomatic exchange agreement between Sweden, Denmark, Norway, Finland, Iceland, Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia, which provides for the opportunity to send diplomats to practice in foreign embassies in countries where they have no foreign mission of their own,” the Foreign Minister said.
At the same time, Paet noted that there are many areas where there is room for further development. “For instance, we could improve co-operation in areas like the common digital market and cyber co-operation,” he said. The Foreign Minister added that Estonia will assume the presidency of NB8 in 2014.
Speaking of security issues, Paet noted that Denmark is an important partner for Estonia in defence co-operation. “Our soldiers are serving with Denmark in the Helmand province in Afghanistan,” the Foreign Minister noted. Paet added that Estonia has joined Denmark’s initiative, which aims to give continued support to Afghanistan and bring together countries that are willing to contribute to the development of the country’s security forces even after the transition period, starting from 2015.
At the same time, the foreign ministers underlined that it is important to maintain and develop further the progress that Afghan society has made in recent years, even after 2014, and, therefore, it is particularly important to support the development of the civil society in Afghanistan. “Afghanistan is Estonia’s target country for development co-operation; for years, we have contributed to the development of the health sector and, like Denmark, also to furthering education and human rights,“ Paet noted.
The foreign ministers also discussed other current affairs, including the future of the European Union and the situation in Syria and Belarus.