TALLINN – Estonian Foreign Minister Eva-Maria Liimets met with British Minister of State for South and Central Asia, United Nations and the Commonwealth Lord Ahmad in Tallinn on Thursday to discuss human rights and media freedom issues as well as the security situation in Europe, which has significantly worsened due to the concentration of Russian forces near the Ukrainian border and in Belarus.
The ministers stressed at the meeting that the most important counterbalance to the tensions is our comprehensive assistance to the people and state of Ukraine, spokespeople for the Foreign Ministry said.
"Firstly, it is very important to show Ukrainians general political support, both bilaterally and internationally. Secondly, Ukraine needs economic support so that their social development can continue and the necessary reforms can be successful. Thirdly, we must help to strengthen their defense capabilities, which simultaneously also acts as a deterrent. At the same time, Russia must refrain from threatening with military force and take concrete steps to ease tensions," Liimets said.
Liimets also thanked the United Kingdom for its contribution to strengthening the deterrence and defense stance of NATO's eastern flank. "We attach great importance to the announcement made by the British prime minister today that the size of the NATO battle group in Tapa will be doubled. The United Kingdom has been a framework country for the NATO battle group in Tapa, Estonia, since 2017 and has repeatedly participated in the Baltic air policing mission in Amari. This cooperation has been very important for both countries, and Estonia highly values the United Kingdom's contribution to our common security," the minister said.
Liimets also commended the British minister of state for good cooperation in the Media Freedom Coalition. "Without a free and functioning media, it is impossible to combat the spread of misinformation. We are proud of the media freedom situation in our countries, because both Estonia and the United Kingdom are among the countries with the freest media in the world according to international indexes. This is why we have a shared responsibility to work for freedom of expression and the media around the world, so that we see improvements instead of pressure and dissuasive examples," she said.
The ministers also talked about good cooperation in the UN Security Council in 2020-2021, emphasizing the need to continue cooperation on cyber security, which is very close to Estonia's heart, so that cyber security would be an integral part of international peace and security discussions.
The ministers also spoke about the hybrid attack on the borders of the European Union by Belarus and the sanctions imposed, as well as concerns about the situation of human rights and political prisoners in Belarus and the continued highlighting of these issues in the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) and the Council of Europe.