TALLINN – Estonian Prime Minister Kaja Kallas began her visit to Ukraine on Monday with a meeting with her Ukrainian colleague Denys Shmyhal, where she said that the best response to Russian aggression is successful reform.
The meeting focused on the reforms required for the development of the country and European integration, as well as a response to the Russian escalation of tensions and digital cooperation, government spokespeople said.
"My last visit to Ukraine took place more than five years ago and I am glad to see the progress Ukraine has made since then. You kept the nerve and have carried out difficult reforms while fighting a defensive war aimed at breaking up your country. The best answer to aggression is to succeed in reforms," Kallas said.
She added that Estonia works in the UN Security Council and other international organizations to ensure that the unlawful annexation of Crimea remains a relevant topic, that the peninsula becomes a part of the free world once again and that the territorial integrity of Ukraine is restored.
"Estonia supports the territorial integrity and Euro-Atlantic integration of Ukraine. We will also do everything we can to make sure that NATO's doors remain open and that the EU reacts to Russia's provocative actions efficiently and appropriately," Kallas added.
At her meeting with Shmyhal, Kallas expressed happiness over the fact that Ukraine has taken a significant developmental leap in e-governance. She said it would encourage Estonia to continue and expand digital cooperation between the two countries. However, Kallas also emphasized that continuing reforms is essential and ongoing initiatives, including the judicial reform, law enforcement, and land reform, should be carried out in full. The prime minister said that in addition to developing legislation, innovation is required in both the public and private sector.
"We know that Ukraine wishes to be increasingly integrated with the European Union. The more successful their reforms, the more open the EU is to this integration. Ukraine is Estonia's main development partner and our government and entrepreneurs are willing to do even more to ensure continued cooperation," Kallas said.
The prime ministers also discussed the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic. Kallas introduced the Estonian digital vaccination certificate and assured that Estonia is willing to participate in the EU’s vaccine distribution mechanism to eastern partners.
Upon arriving in Kyiv, Kallas placed a wreath at the Holodomor memorial to commemorate the victims of the famine caused by the Soviet regime in 1932-1933. The famine that caused the deaths of almost four million people has been declared a genocide.
On Tuesday, Kallas will receive an overview of the situation in the region of conflict in eastern Ukraine and meet with Crimean Tatars. On Wednesday, she will have meetings with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and Minister of Foreign Affairs Dmytro Kuleba.