TALLINN - Estonian Foreign Minister Urmas Reinsalu will be on a visit to Washington, D.C., on Wednesday and Thursday at the invitation of the Secretary of State of the United States Mike Pompeo.
Reinsalu is to attend the opening event of the International Religious Freedom Alliance hosted by the US secretary of state on Wednesday evening. On Thursday, the minister will take part in the national prayer breakfast where President Donald Trump will give a speech. Reinsalu will also meet with Bill Keating, chairman of the subcommittee on Europe of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs.
"We agreed on joining the Religious Freedom Alliance with my US colleague in October. Nearly 40 countries across the world have been invited to join the initiative; from our neighborhood, for example, they include all Baltic states and several other European Union states. We definitely see this as a chance to further develop bilateral relations with our closest ally," Reinsalu said.
He added that the alliance would make sure that the freedom of religion and belief is protected as a human right regardless of people's religious background or beliefs. Issues concerning the freedom of religion and belief are also actively addressed through the EU and the UN.
The International Religious Freedom Alliance bases its work on existing actions for protecting the freedom of religion or belief in the UN and regional organisations. The alliance is founded on, among other things, Article 18 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights: "Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion; this right includes freedom to change his religion or belief, and freedom, either alone or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief in teaching, practice, worship and observance." The aim of the initiative is to help protect the freedom of religion and belief across the world and help those who are persecuted for their religion or beliefs.
Other initiatives Estonia has joined include the Media Freedom Coalition and the Freedom Online Coalition.