Estonia raises topic of Alexei Navalny arrest at meeting of European affairs ministers

  • 2021-01-18
  • BNS/TBT Staff

TALLINN - The European Union’s European affairs ministers on Monday held an informal video conference, with the ministers focusing on COVID-19 mitigation and Estonia also raising the issue of the arrest of Alexei Navalny.

The European Union’s European affairs ministers on Monday held an informal video conference, with deputy secretary general for European affairs Mart Volmer representing Estonia. Portugal recently took over the presidency of the Council of the European Union and presented its priorities. The ministers also discussed coordination in COVID-19 mitigation efforts and the Conference on the Future of Europe, spokespeople for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said.

Volmer affirmed Estonia’s support to Portugal’s priority concerning the swift implementation of the EU’s Multiannual Financial Framework and the Recovery and Resilience Facility. "In this regard, it is very important for Estonia that all aspects of July’s European Council conclusions are honored. We support the presidency’s plans to promote the digital agenda for Europe," Volmer said. "We stress the need to strengthen the transatlantic relationship, close cooperation and partnership with the UK and active engagement with the Eastern Partnership countries."

The meeting covered the restrictions related to the COVID-19 pandemic in depth and the ministers reiterated the continued importance of coordination among EU member states. "The European Commission has been successful in procuring vaccines, however, the first setbacks have made us concerned about the security of supply," Volmer said. "Estonia is working on a reliable digital Smart Vaccination Certificate to support vaccination campaigns worldwide. In the future, this could also provide citizens with an opportunity to travel without COVID-19 restrictions sooner.”"

The ministers also discussed moving forward with the Conference on the Future of Europe. "We should focus more attention on the green and digital transitions, and we also need to strengthen the EU’s role as a global leader. This should be an inclusive process and fully respect inter-institutional balance," Volmer said.

At the meeting, Volmer also raised issue of the arrest of Alexei Navalny. He reiterated Estonia’s position that a joint statement by the European Union on the arrest of Navalny should be made as soon as possible. "We should also discuss and be prepared to introduce restrictive measures if Navalny is not released immediately," Volmer added.