Karis: Security concerns make cooperation between Estonia, Cyprus important

  • 2024-03-27
  • BNS/TBT Staff

TALLINN – Estonian President Alar Karis and the head of state of Cyprus Nikos Christodoulidis discussed the political and economic relations between Estonia and Cyprus as well as the security picture in Europe and more narrowly in the Mediterranean region at a meeting in Cyprus on Wednesday.

"Europe is grappling with international security crises, which is why cooperation between Estonia and Cyprus is more important than before. Russia's aggression in Ukraine is a war against international law and the inviolability of state borders. Ukraine urgently needs our effective help to protect itself and all of Europe from the evil that is attacking," Karis said. "Estonia has decided to allocate 0.25 percent of its GDP over the next four years to strengthen Ukraine's defense capabilities and we invite other countries to do the same. In this way, our joint contribution would help to beat back the aggressor."

The heads of state also discussed possibilities for cooperation between Estonia and Cyprus to provide Ukraine with expertise in explosive ordnance disposal training. They also talked about rebuilding Ukraine and the need to hold Russia accountable for its aggression.

The presidents also talked about the reunification process of Cyprus.

"We support the reunification of the island based on a solution suitable for both communities in accordance with the resolutions of the UN Security Council," Karis said.

The heads of state also spoke about the conflict between Israel and Hamas, which has escalated in recent months.

"The humanitarian situation in Gaza is catastrophic. Cyprus has made great efforts to open a humanitarian corridor to provide the necessary additional aid by sea to people affected by the conflict," Karis said.

With the Amalthea Initiative, ships with humanitarian aid have moved from the ports of Cyprus to Gaza in international cooperation.

Speaking about migration problems, Karis expressed concern that the increased instability in Africa and the Middle East will have an impact on the whole of Europe.

"Refugee flows from unstable regions are used to incite tensions in European Union countries," the head of state said.

He affirmed Estonia's support for Cyprus as a country on the front line of migration problems.

"Through missions of the European Border and Coast Guard Agency, or Frontex, Estonia has actively contributed to the protection of the European Union's external border, including in Cyprus, being one of the highest contributing countries per capita in the European Union," Karis said.

Speaking about digital cooperation, the president said that Estonia is ready to share the know-how necessary for the digitization of the country.

"I hope for new enthusiasm for the digital cooperation between our countries. The possibility of mutually buying medicines with a digital prescription is one practical example that would benefit the residents of both countries, for example, when traveling," the head of state said.

According to Karis, the interest in promoting economic cooperation with Cyprus is confirmed by the business delegation accompanying him on the visit.

"Entrepreneurs from different backgrounds in Estonia, including those from the digital and maritime sectors, are looking for partners in Cyprus for joint business activities. I am hopeful that our business seminar and meetings will boost cooperation between entrepreneurs," he added.

The Estonian head of state also met with Annita Demetriou, speaker of the parliament of Cyprus. Topics discussed at the meeting included security concerns in the immediate region of both countries, the need to support Ukraine, and Russia's war of aggression. The focus was also on strengthening relations between Estonia and Cyprus, including economic and digital cooperation, but deepening cooperation between parliaments was also discussed. Estonia and Cyprus are both celebrating 20 years since joining the European Union this year.

The business delegation accompanying the president includes representatives of Admirals Group, Amisco, Datel, DefSecIntel, Saaresalu, Sillamae port, the Kuressaare College of Tallinn University of Technology and the Estonian Chamber of Commerce and Industry.