25–26 May 2009, Hanoi
"Joint efforts to cope with global challenges"
Ministers, Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen
I am pleased to address the distinguished audience here today to discuss the global challenges we all face no matter what side of the planet Earth we live on. Asia and Europe working in partnership have a tremendous potential that can make a difference on every level and every challenge of today’s world. Only common efforts can bring success in countering the terrorism and climate change, infectious diseases, and last but not least in turning the global economic cycle up again.
Alongside the traditional security issues, more and more attention should be paid on new security threats. In my statement today I would like to address three specific issues: maritime security, piracy, and the cyber security.
Tackling global, international, or local challenges starts from everyone’s own backyard. Speaking about the maritime security, Estonia’s top priority is to improve the maritime safety on our Mare Nostrum – the Baltic Sea. With the globalization of the world ever growing, so is shipping in the Baltic Sea – currently, the Baltic Sea has some of the busiest maritime traffic in the world. On average, there are about 2000 ships daily at the Baltic Sea, about 200 of them are tankers.
As the number and also the size of ships increase, so does the likelihood of accidents, collisions and worst of all – oil spills. An oil-spill in a shallow sea like the Baltic Sea would not only harm marine vegetation and sea birds. It would also have grave long-term consequences on fishing, tourism and trade, rather likely causing irreparable harm to both the environment and seafaring. To reduce the number of accidents, Estonia, Finland and Russia started a system for tracing the ships five years ago. The Gulf of Finland Mandatory Reporting System (GOFREP) has also been approved by International Maritime Organization (IMO).
The decision by IMO declaring the Baltic Sea a Particularity Sensitive Sea Area in 2005 has greatly helped to increase maritime safety by imposing stringent regulations on ships and navigation.
Mr. Chairman, Ladies and Gentlemen,
Estonian late President Lennart Meri called the seaways as the first and universal World Wide Web and in many ways it seems today more true than ever. Just some years ago we believed that the plague of seaborne piracy has been disappeared long ago and that the revival of the pirates could only be possible on the pages of adventure stories or on movie screens. But we were wrong, because some people decided otherwise and hit the computers famous reset button instead. Captain Jack Sparrow and other Pirates of the Caribbean have returned and we have to admit that the real pirates have unfortunately very little in common with movie screen heroes.
Estonia, being also hit by piracy, supports more vigorous activities to counter this threat from the past. Firstly, we need an international agreement about the ways of handling detained pirates, about proper court proceedings, and appropriate punishments,
Secondly, even more decisive measures have to be taken to deter piracy: armed protecting teams should be allowed onboard of cargo ships and proper legal basis for responses in cases of attacks has to be created.
Thirdly, considering the ever increasing piracy off the Somali coast and in the Gulf of Aden, more coordinated cooperation between international actors is needed. So far, mostly the EU has been implementing the UN decisions, by launching the military operation “Atalanta”. The engagement of Asian countries like Japan, Malaysia, China, Saudi Arabia, India, Yemen and Oman in the work of the international contact group is highly appreciated. The situation in the Strait of Malacca clearly shows that coordinated efforts combined with the will of the involved countries are effective remedies.
While coordinating our actions at sea we have to keep in mind the words of the UN General Secretary that more security on the ground will make less piracy on the seas."
Another security threat, that, opposite to the piracy, is a new-born one, with the actual World Wide Web acting as both of its parents, is the threat from the Net. The cyber threat does not recognize any borders nor is any traditional security measure applicable in fighting the crimes of the virtual world. Therefore we are all vulnerable and must confront this complex security threat at a global level.
There are many countries in the world with a huge IT-potential, but lacking the legal framework to control the cyber space. The growing threat of a terrorist use of cyberspace and internet, rising volume and sophistication of cyber crime as well as growing industrial espionage through cyberspace indicate a trend, where the use of technology for ill purposes must receive more focused attention by the governments.
Estonia’s aim is to unite as many nations as possible through international conventions addressing cyber crime and attacks, and achieve international moral condemnation of cyber attacks. We are ready to share our cyber security-related experience with the rest of the world. Our joint efforts should be joined in a way that, if necessary, we could be able to push the same buttons at the exact same time. Only this provides us the skills to combat the threats of the future today and in the years to come.