TALLINN - Foreign Minister Sven Mikser focused on Estonia's key foreign policy issues and targets in his annual speech to the parliament during the deliberation of foreign policy on Thursday, saying that Estonia's foreign policy is based on values.
Talking about Estonia's foreign policy directions and objectives, Mikser emphasized remaining true to one's values. "An alliance between countries and nations that honor democracy, the rule of law and human values, as well as a world order based on international law and rules, offer the best protection for our independence and freedom," Mikser was quoted by spokespeople as saying.
When talking about the alliance between Europe and North America, Mikser stressed that it has been the backbone of international security and will remain so in the future. "While we long to see the continued dedication of the United States to its commitments as an ally of Europe, it is also our duty to understand the concerns and expectations of the United States. As one of the few NATO allies who performs the obligations undertaken with respect to military spending, Estonia supports the principle that all allies should endeavor to do the same," the foreign minister said.
Describing the tasks that the European Union must face, Mikser talked about the negotiations concerning the United Kingdom leaving the European Union that are due to start soon. According to the Mikser, it is important to maintain the unity of the 27 member states. "Negotiations must not harm the unity of the EU and the possibility of tight cooperation between the EU and the U.K. must remain," Mikser emphasized. He added that a significant proportion of the negotiations will be held during the time of Estonia's presidency of the Council of the European Union and this places a particular responsibility on Estonia to ensure the seamless conduct of the process.
When speaking about the EU presidency, Mikser noted that during the Estonian presidency in the second half of the year, Estonia's visibility and influence will be greater than ever. "We focus on innovation, security and developing a digital as well as inclusive Europe," the foreign minister said.
Mikser also talked about the fight against international terrorism and conflicts and humanitarian crises in the southern neighborhood of the European Union. "In addition to participating in international military and peacekeeping missions, we are engaged with our partners with the aim of resolving the migrant crisis and the root causes of international terrorism," the minister said. Mikser added that by assisting the countries in distress upon reinforcing the structures required for the functioning of the country and the improvement of their sustainability, Estonia helps to create prerequisites that ensure that people are not forced to leave their homes in search of a safe and dignified life.
Mikser also addressed the conflict between Russia and Ukraine as well as sanctions. "The territorial integrity of Ukraine has not been restored, Crimea is still illegally annexed, and military action in eastern Ukraine is ongoing and has escalated in the past few weeks," he said. "As long as Russia continues to violate the international law and fails to perform the obligations it has undertaken, there can be no discussions of the restoration of trust and confidence or a return to normal interaction. The sanctions must remain in effect until an absolute and complete compliance with the Minsk agreements is achieved. The inescapable prerequisite for any dropping of sanctions must be Russia's commitment to the principles of international law and performance of the obligations it has undertaken. Should Russia further disconnect itself from the performance of the obligations, we must be prepared to toughen the sanctions," he added.