Estonian, Icelandic formins discuss Arctic, Nordic-Baltic cooperation

  • 2020-02-19
  • BNS/TBT Staff

TALLINN – Estonian Foreign Minister Urmas Reinsalu on Wednesday met with Foreign Minister of Iceland Gudlaugur Thor Thordarson to discuss topics related to the Arctic and Nordic-Baltic cooperation.

Reinsalu said relations between Estonia and Iceland are very good and friendly, based on the fact that Iceland was the first country in the world to recognize the restoration of Estonia's independence on August 22, 1991. However, contacts between Iceland and Estonia date back to the 1920s. "In a couple of years, we are happy to celebrate the centenary of Estonian-Icelandic relations," he added.

The foreign minister thanked Iceland as the previous coordinator of the NB8 cooperation format and presented the priorities of Estonia, which is leading the Nordic-Baltic cooperation this year. "Our objectives are based on what Iceland and others have achieved previously," Reinsalu noted, and outlined Estonia's five priorities, which comprise regional security, cyber cooperation, connectivity, climate change and environmental issues, and cultural and health cooperation. Reinsalu and Thordarson agreed that establishing a NB8 prize for notable contributors to the region's cooperation was a good way of highlighting the visibility of the region and the importance of cooperation.

Reinsalu expressed support to Iceland's chairmanship of the Arctic Council and to efforts towards improving the work of the council and highlighting the work of its working groups and the role of observers. He also briefed his Icelandic colleague about Estonia's ambitions to become an observer on the Arctic Council. "We support the position that the Arctic must remain a region of low tensions. As a country close to the Arctic, it is Estonia's interest and responsibility to ensure the sustainability of the Arctic," he said. According to Reinsalu, Estonian polar researchers have been studying the Arctic for years, and therefore, Estonian researchers could directly contribute to the working groups of the Arctic Council.

Reinsalu also highlighted the excellent digital cooperation between Estonia and Iceland. "Iceland, alongside Finland and the Faroe Islands, is participating in the work of the Nordic Institute for Interoperability Solutions (NIIS), which is developing and managing the X-Road," he said. The foreign minister also underscored good regional cooperation on cyber security. The foreign ministers of Estonia and Iceland agreed on establishing a platform of bilateral cyber cooperation.

Urmas Reinsalu also reiterated the readiness of Estonia as an elected member of the UN Security Council to work with Iceland.

Additionally, the ministers discussed topics related to the European Economic Area, the European Union, NATO, Russia and China.