Estonian - French relations on solid ground

  • 2011-01-19
  • By Ella Karapetyan

TALLINN - On Jan. 13, Prime Minister Andrus Ansip met with Pierre Lellouche, the French secretary of state for foreign trade under the Minister of Economy, Finance and Industry, to discuss cooperation between the two countries in various fields as well as issues related to European Union trade policy. At the meeting, which took place at Stenbock House (the Seat of the Estonian government and State Chancellery ) in Tallinn, the officials said Estonian-French relations were good at all levels, with bilateral economic relations seeing stable development.

“Estonia and France have undoubtedly managed to put the economic crisis to positive use in their own interests, turning it into an opportunity,” said Ansip. He added that the crisis has also made Estonian entrepreneurs look to more distant markets, including France.

Ansip noted that the growth in investments has raised France’s visibility in the eyes of Estonians. The prime minister expressed his conviction that the changeover to the euro will bring even more investment to Estonia.
Discussing European Union trade policy, Ansip said that the new trade strategy should be more aimed at general liberalization of trade and less to protecting countries’ own markets. “It is important that countries begin to lift the additional protective measures established on trade and investments during the crisis, as continuing to open markets for both goods and services will assist the recovery of economic growth,” said Ansip.

Moreover, during his visit, Lellouche also took part in a ceremony for the signing of an agreement between the energy company Alstom and Eesti Energia in Narva. The agreement concerns the building of two oil-shale-fired energy units in Narva.
The prime minister said he was pleased with the signing of the agreement, calling it a good example of the fruitful cooperation between France and Estonia in the field of energy. When discussing energy policy, Ansip and Lellouche both agreed that carbon leakage remains one of the most serious problems to be solved. Ansip said that taking steps in order to prevent carbon leakage is an important issue, as important as unequal competition in the form of electricity from third countries entering the EU market, which can jeopardize energy security and competitiveness in member states, especially in the Baltics.