Estonian Foreign Minister Sven Mikser held the annual speech on foreign policy at the Riigikogu on Tuesday 12 February, outlining the challenges facing Estonian foreign policy, and highlighting solutions that would help protect and promote the rules-based order as well as serve Estonian foreign policy and security interests.
“In addition to celebrating the centenary of the birth of the Republic of Estonia, last year we also marked the 100th anniversary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Throughout the history of our state, it is the foreign service that has perpetuated our legal continuity,” the Minister began his speech. “However, questioning the values of liberal democracy globally, in the European Union, and also here in Estonia continues to be a challenge,” the Minister said, stressing the need to protect the rules-based order.
Commenting on the current security situation, Mikser assured that the transatlantic security alliance remains strong. “The leading role of the United States of America in ensuring NATO’s deterrence and protection as well as their active contribution to European security continue to be necessary. At the same time, the call of the United States for more equal burden-sharing should be taken seriously by European allies. Investing in one’s security is the obligation of each state, and fulfilling these goals is the basis for a strong relationship of trust,” the Foreign Minister emphasised.
Speaking about the European Union, Mikser said that 15 years of EU membership have increased Estonia’s prosperity, welfare, and safety, however, the unity and fundamental values of the EU were being threatened. “Populism based on lies and scaremongering that appeals to the base instincts of people are some of the tools in the hands of those who oppose the idea of Europe. The so-called illiberal democracy is hailed as an example, which essentially means an absence of democracy; European unity is contrasted with national sovereignty, forgetting that it is cooperation that increases the influence of small states,” the Minister said, stressing that common decision-making and policies amplify Estonian policies and economic development.
The Foreign Minister noted that the global map of threats was becoming increasingly complex and highlighted Estonia’s bid to become a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council among its foreign policy challenges. “When Estonia sees a threat in the erosion of the rules-based order, isolationism, and the enforcement of policies from a position of power, we must join forces with other like-minded countries to try to thwart or at least neutralise these trends. This is possible only through active contribution and participation,” he said.
The Minister also spoke about the importance of the EU’s Eastern Partnership programme and the need to participate more in discussions about the EU’s Southern Neighbourhood, the future partnership with the United Kingdom after the completion of the Brexit process, the active encouragement of free trade and Estonia’s economic success, the digital dimension of foreign policy and the national cyber defence system.
Concluding his speech, the Foreign Minister said that Estonia’s interests were best protected by promoting cooperation based on liberal values and rules. “A democratic small state will survive and prosper if it protects its values at home and abroad, and if it has allies who share these values and who are also prepared to advance and protect these values together,” he said. The Foreign Minister stressed that all governments that have been in office after the restoration of independence have strengthened Estonia’s sovereignty and international standing by enhancing alliances and partnerships, and expressed confidence that the next government would also put foreign policy at the service of our interests and ensure the resources that were needed for the successful functioning of the foreign service.
The speech in full: https://vm.ee/en/news/presentation-government-foreign-policy-debate-riig…
Photos (Riigikogu): goo.gl/xXF2LX
Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Estonia
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