President Karis embarks on visit to Africa: Building cooperation with distant countries makes Estonia stronger

  • 2024-03-04

This week, President Alar Karis is on a state visit to Botswana and a working visit to Angola. The purpose of the visits is to talk about security concerns in Europe and Africa, converge views on Russia's colonial war against Ukraine, and foster Estonian business diplomacy. The head of state will be accompanied by his wife Sirje Karis.

“Communicating with and meeting leaders from countries that are geographically distant to us is essential if we want to understand each other better and step up our cooperation,” said President Karis. “However, geographical distance does not automatically mean distance in views and attitudes.” Botswana and Angola are the first African countries he will visit as the head of state.

“Difficult security situations are unfortunately a reality on both the African and European continents,” said President Karis. “Therefore, it is important to have friends and join forces, as most conflict resolution requires international cooperation. We need to understand the concerns and expectations of the countries there and do what we can to ensure that our partners in Africa can also understand Europe's concerns and their impact. Consequently, building cooperation with distant countries is particularly important to jointly support Ukraine and stand up in international organisations – especially the UN – against Russia's aggressive and colonialist behaviour and its influence in general. Building this cooperation will make Estonia stronger.”

He added that he would like to talk with the leaders of Botswana and Angola about the global security situation and the crises affecting everyone, such as migration, climate issues, and the spread of terrorism.

The Estonian head of state noted that a high-level visit enables the state to support entrepreneurs who wish to enter these markets. “Botswana and Angola with their rapidly developing societies and economies have both committed to digital transformation, an area in which Estonia has experience and expertise in both the private and the public sector,” he added. “We can share our success and lessons learned for an inclusive digital transformation as well as to reform the public sector, the business environment, and the education system.”

Botswana is one of Estonia's four development cooperation partner countries in Africa. This cooperation will focus on people-centric and secure digitalisation and business development.

President Karis will be accompanied by Estonian entrepreneurs who are operating in Africa or want to expand their activities there. During the state visit to Botswana, the Estonian head of state will be joined by representatives of Nortal, Admirals Group, and Digital Nation as well as the Estonian Centre for International Development (ESTDEV). Representatives from Digital Nation, the e-Governance Academy, and the Admirals Group will be part of the business delegation on the visit to Angola.

First Lady Sirje Karis will visit a centre for children with addiction problems and a national youth centre in Botswana where youth entrepreneurship activities will be introduced.

The head of state will be returning to Estonia on Saturday.