Estonia exposes itself to China

  • 2010-10-20
  • By Ella Karapetyan

TALLINN - On October 18, Foreign Minister Urmas Paet led an Estonian delegation to the Expo World Exposition taking place in Shanghai, China where he opened Estonia Day, according to the Estonian Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
The Estonian delegation is comprised of an 18-member business delegation, which includes a logistics delegation led by the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Communications, the rectors of Estonia’s biggest universities, and representatives of the Ministry of Culture and Enterprise Estonia. Representatives of the Estonian Association of Designers will also head to Shanghai to introduce Estonia and establish contacts with nations participating in the Expo and with visitors of the exhibition. Initially, President Toomas Hendrik Ilves was also supposed to attend the event but due to ill health was forced to cancel the visit.

The celebration of Estonia Day in Shanghai actually began on October 17, when the Estonian Philharmonic Chamber Choir gave a concert in the Expo’s Culture Centre. On Oct. 18, the members of the delegation led by the Foreign Ministry also met with representatives of other nations participating in the Expo, where in the Estonian pavilion the Chinese translation of the compilation “Estonian Fairy Tales”, containing stories by Friedrich Reinhold Kreutzwald and August Jakobson, were presented.

In opening Estonian Day at the Shanghai Expo, the Foreign Minister said that trade relations between Estonia and China have increased by 30% over the last five years, while Shanghai Expo has clearly expanded the possibility for growth.

“Participation in the Shanghai Expo has further contributed to economic relations between Estonia and China, and China is becoming a country where co-operation is possible in the sphere of information and communications, aside from transit,” said Paet, when opening the Expo. “The Ministry of Foreign Affairs opened a consulate in Shanghai at the beginning of the year to add to contacts – as Tallinn is the closest European Union capital for China,” Paet added.

Paet said that Estonia had prepared thoroughly for the expo. “We would like to use this opportunity to introduce Estonia as best we can. Participation in the event provides Estonia with an opportunity to introduce itself in the areas of business, culture, tourism, education, research, and many others to China and the entire world. The Expo has brought Estonian entrepreneurs, educators  and cultural experts many valuable contacts. “The guests that have visited Estonia’s pavilion at the Expo number in the millions. Estonia Day placed the spotlight on us and helped us to expand our contacts even more,” he added.

Foreign Minister Paet stated that educational co-operation between Estonia and China is also developing successfully. “Over 100 young Chinese people are studying in Estonian institutions of higher learning, and we hope that the number of Estonian students gaining a Chinese education will also increase little by little,” said Paet. “Signing an agreement for the reciprocal recognition of higher education diplomas and qualifications helped to increase educational and research co-operation,” Paet added.

The theme of the Shanghai World Exposition is a “Better City, Better Life,” with which it hopes to find solutions to the issues and challenges that come with urbanization. The Expo is dedicated to the development of a contemporary urban environment.

 “Tallinn, the capital city of Estonia, has been repeatedly short listed among the most intelligent urban spaces. Apart from our own ideas for urban space development, 100,000 ideas for the development of urban society have been collected in the piggy bank-shaped idea bank in the Estonian pavilion,” Paet stated. “Ideas collected in the Estonian pavilion, which are to be communicated to world cities, will be published on the Web site,” he added. Estonia’s exhibit in the Shanghai World Exposition EXPO is trying to involve people in the campaign to save cities. The pavilion offers people the opportunity to join the discussion on problems related to global urbanization.

Paet noted that a developing, citizen-focused society is a pre-requisite for economic development. “The information and communication solutions for improving urban environments and the better operation of societies that have been developed in Estonia include e-governance, e-tax board, or e-election, which are among the solutions that simplify participation in social life,” explained Paet, when introducing the solution suggested by Estonia.

Paet said that taking part in the EXPO is a good opportunity for Estonia to show itself to the world and to invite people to travel, study, and create business ties in Estonia. “Being part of the World Exposition gives our businesses and institutions a good opportunity to establish ties in rapidly-developing Asia,” said the foreign minister. During the EXPO, various seminars and theme days were held in the Estonia pavilion.

The World Exposition, which is to last for half a year, includes close to 200 nations and 45 international businesses.  So far the Shanghai World Exposition has been visited by 64 million people.