TALLINN - During their meeting in Helsinki on Feb. 11, Estonian Foreign Minister Urmas Paet and his Finnish colleague Alexander Stubb emphasized that Estonia and Finland’s close cooperation includes helping each other’s citizens in crisis regions, reports news agency LETA. The Foreign Ministry press service said that the ministers stated that it is essential for the governments of Egypt and other Northern African states to resolve their problems by implementing political, economic and social reforms. Paet thanked the Finnish foreign minister for his cooperation in helping Estonian citizens leave the crisis situation in Egypt.
Paet and Stubb condemned all violence in Egypt, including the attacks on Finnish journalists, and called on all parties involved to peacefully come to a political agreement. “A resolution should be found through discussions that include representatives of all the political movements,” Paet stated. “It is essential that the Egyptian army maintains a balanced position.”
The Estonian and Finnish foreign ministers also discussed the composition of the European External Action Service. Foreign Minister Paet said that the European Union’s foreign service is not completed yet, but it is important that once the service is operational, it is effective and the members can feel its strong support. “Currently there are 22 Estonian citizens working in the European External Action Service and the process for filling other positions is ongoing, with Estonian diplomats and officials in the running,” he added.
The foreign ministers stressed that Estonia-Finland cooperation is constantly growing closer and more regular. “In addition to Finland and Estonia’s recent cooperation in bringing citizens home from the crisis situation in Egypt, at the beginning of the year an Estonian exchange diplomat began working at the Finnish Embassy in Zambia. Finland also made an active contribution to the creation of the Estonian Eastern Partnership Center that just opened, and our soldiers work together in the Nordic Battle Group,” said Paet, naming examples of Estonia and Finland’s successful joint activities. According to the Estonian foreign minister, we are prepared to offer Finland the opportunity to share embassy space in Minsk. Currently Estonia represents Finland for the issuing of Schengen visas in Minsk and Pskov.
At their meeting, the Estonian and Finnish foreign ministers also talked about the situation in Belarus. Paet said that we must focus on supporting the development of civil society in Belarus. “Estonia plans to increase its support for the civil society of Belarus through the training sessions of Estonia’s Eastern Partnership Center and offering Belarusian students opportunities to study in Estonian universities. Estonia also supports the Humanitarian University in Vilnius, where many Belarusian students study,” he said. “The European Union should also continue with the visa facilitation process, to make travel to the EU easier for Belarusian citizens.”