KEEPING ABREAST OF TECHNOLOGY: Urmas Paet stresses the importance of a knowledge-based economy and creating an energy market.
TALLINN - According to the Estonian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Estonia will assume the presidency of the Baltic Council on January 1, 2011.
At the session of the Baltic Council in Riga, the Foreign Minister of Estonia, Urmas Paet, emphasized that Estonia’s main priorities during the presidency of the Baltic Council will be the development of a knowledge-based economy, increased energy security, and the establishment of energy and transport associations, reports the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
When speaking of energy security, the Foreign Minister emphasized the importance of the creation of an energy market as a part of a common Baltic-Nordic electricity market. “This would be contributed to considerably by the expansion of Nord Pool Spot to Latvia and Lithuania. It is also necessary to establish a common regulation for electricity imports from so-called third countries, to avoid market distortion and ensure the smooth operation of the electricity market,” Paet stated.
According to Paet, work needs to be continued on the establishment of a common gas market and the diversification of gas deliveries.
Paet added that apart from the establishment of an energy association and the diversification of deliveries, it’s as important to focus on projects for regional transport links, above all, Via and Rail Baltica. “Transport connections and transit are a vital issue for Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania. Restoring train connections, first of all, between Tallinn and Riga and then to Central Europe is required to meet the pace of globalization,” Paet claimed.
As the foreign minister said, the development of a knowledge-based economy is necessary for enhancing the competitiveness of the European Union as a whole and therefore, will definitely serve the interests of Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania. “Both the Baltic and Nordic countries must find opportunities for the best possible implementation of their innovative potential and promote co-operation for the development and implementation of innovative ideas,” said Paet.
The Foreign Minister emphasized the importance of cooperation between Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania for the development of the digital domestic market. “Digital solutions include exceptional opportunities. Why not make the most of such knowledge and skills. I do believe that the absence of a European Union digital market is one of the major factors holding back the competitiveness of the EU,” Paet explained. “With Nordic countries we do have the potential to become the pioneers in shaping the fifth basic freedom – digital freedom – of the European Union,” he added.
The promotion of a knowledge-based economy also assumes more active cooperation in the sphere of education and research. “The future cooperation report of Estonia and Latvia suggests a number of ideas that would be beneficial if implemented tri-laterally. For example, it would be sensible to share financial and human resources for the establishment of joint and contemporary research institutions,” said the foreign minister.
The foreign minister also discussed the issues of regional policy and the environment. These subjects will also be given extra attention during Estonia’s presidency.
Latvia currently holds the presidency of the Baltic Council.