Estonian minister: Main topic of meetings in US was security cooperation

  • 2020-02-10
  • BNS/TBT Staff

TALLINN – Estonia's Interior Minister Mart Helme, who has returned from a visit to the United States, described his meetings with US officials as businesslike and offering a confirmation of the two countries' readiness for cooperation.   

Helme visited during his trip to the United States the FBI Academy and met with leaders of drug enforcement, representatives of the Department of Justice and different think tanks. Helme also took part in the National Prayer Breakfast and thanked the FBI Academy for its contribution to training Estonian experts.

"Increasing importance is being attached at the academy to international cooperation, as part of which they are planning to increase the number of foreign students. For us this is extremely positive news of course. They are also planning new courses on the subject of new technologies, which among other things include 5G," the minister and chairman of the Estonian Conservative People's Party said.

Helme was hosted at the FBI Academy by Renae McDermott, assistant director of the FBI's Training Division, with whom the Estonian minister is scheduled to meet next in Tallinn already this fall.

During a meeting at the Drug Enforcement Administration, the mutual wish to engage in intense cooperation in combating narcotics was reaffirmed.

The Estonian minister said he was pleased to hear the Drug Enforcement Administration's deputy director Preston L. Grubb confirm that Estonia is one of their best cooperation partners, because our people act quickly and efficiently and adhere to agreements.

In addition, the upward trend in the use of fentanyl and also cocaine, the results of legalizing cannabis and addressing the results thereof, which have been topics of cooperation for the two parties for a longer time, were talked about. 

"In the United States cannabis use has been legalized in several states and they have a good overview of what it has led to. Cooperation and learning from each other on this matter will continue also in the future," Helme said.

Helme also visited the strategic studies think tank Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), where he heard a speech by Attorney General William Barr on the clout of China in the field of 5G and had a brief meeting with Barr. Later on, the Estonian minister met with officials from the Department of Justice in a more businesslike atmosphere.

The minister said that in that meeting they, among other things, followed up on the topics of China and concerns related to 5G dealt with by Barr in his speech.

"While we would like to act in unison with the United States on 5G, we also have to keep in mind what the developments are in the European Union, as it is customary in Europe to find a consensus of different topics," Helme said.

The fight against money laundering was talked about at greater length during the meeting, with the Department of Justice demonstrating its readiness to share its experiences with Estonia. 

As a follow-on to the National Prayer Breakfast, Helme met in the Congress with several members of the House of Representatives, including Steve Scalis, Robert P. Aderholt, Ron Estes and others, with whom The Three Seas Initiative was talked about, ideas exchanged about China and a discussion held on topics of general security, and cyber security in particular.

In total over 3,000 people took part in the National Prayer Breakfast, where speeches were made by President Donald Trump and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.