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Estonia's foreign policy development plan until 2030 unveiled

BC, Tallinn, 19.05.2020.Print version
Estonian Minister of Foreign Affairs Urmas Reinsalu on Tuesday introduced Estonia's foreign policy development plan until 2030, the general objectives of which are the preservation of the Estonian people, language and culture through the ages, the security of Estonia's independence in international relations, improved general wellbeing, protection of Estonians abroad and Estonia's increasing contribution to global sustainable development, informs LETA/BNS.


"Security is and will be Estonia's foreign policy priority. The first and most important strand of action in the development plan is therefore ensuring and strengthening security. The goal of Estonia's security policy is to prevent threats and upon their emergence, react flexibly to them," Reinsalu said.

"Our activity is directed at being able to state in ten years that regional security is sound, Estonia's presence and impact in the world have grown and that Estonian people have reason to support the main directions of the foreign policy, including our membership in the European Union and NATO," Reinsalu said.

"With the support of our foreign service and diplomats, the foreign policy development plan aims to ensure that we should be able to say in 2030 that Estonia's security in the rapidly changing world is guaranteed, that we're known, heard and trusted, that Estonian entrepreneurs are doing well abroad, that foreign investments are growing and that Estonia is always close to its citizens abroad via convenient public services," the foreign minister said.

"By 2030, we'd like to see the European Union be functional and influential and with Estonia at its core. Our relations with the United States are comprehensive and close. Our strong education system and cyber and digital spheres are known in the world. Estonia's exports in foreign markets have grown; innovative and user-friendly solutions have been introduced to service Estonians residing abroad," he added.

"Security threats are becoming more diverse with growing hybrid, cyber and pandemic threats. The global order of economic, innovative, technological and industrial power is changing. The population of the western world is declining while that of the rest of the world is growing rapidly along with migratory pressures. Pressure on our living environment is likewise increasing, caused by global growth in population and consumption as well as by more extensive use of natural resources and climate changes. Our choices are increasingly affected by the share of new technologies and level of digitization in the economy. In relation to these changes, the foreign policy decisions we make today and tomorrow will shape Estonia's future," Reinsalu said.

"Our experience following the restoration of our independence shows that Estonia's interests are best protected through international cooperation based on values and rules. For that reason, we fully support the preservation and strengthening of order based on rules and international law. Estonia is guided by the principle that by ensuring international security and supporting sustainable development, we also strengthen our own security.  One way for doing this is to resolve problems in their state of origin through development cooperation. Considering future trends, the importance of these activities will grow further," the minister said.

It is important that our weight in foreign policy terms exceed our weight in numbers, Reinsalu noted.

"For that purpose, Estonia's contribution is required in the development of new initiatives, such as the Three Seas Initiative involving Central and Eastern European Countries. A meeting of nine foreign ministers of NATO's eastern flank will be held in Tallinn next year. Foreign policy is not just about reacting to external events; instead we are daily working to ensure Estonia's security, generate more opportunities for Estonian entrepreneurs in foreign markets, strengthen Estonia's image and vigorously support states and nations in their aspiration for freedom. The reach of Estonia's foreign representations is larger than ever before. We need to be innovative, imaginative, proactive and analytical while developing our network of foreign representations," he said.

"Naturally, we have reviewed our development plan from the perspective of the COVID-19 pandemic," Reinsalu said. "The present situation has clearly pointed out all shortcomings, for instance, direct support to entrepreneurs, particularly in faraway markets, is more important than ever before. We are also expanding our activities in international cooperation for crisis prevention and resolution."

"It is the state's task to support entrepreneurs in their entry to foreign markets, particularly when the pandemic comes to an end and present rules may no longer apply. To that end, we are closely cooperating with Estonian exporters, particularly in markets that are farther away and where the state's help in 'opening doors' is especially important. Businesses' interest in faraway markets has grown in Asia and Africa in particular. We also see opportunities for strengthening economic cooperation further in Africa," the foreign minister said.

"As to the area of consular services, we must do everything in our power as a digital state to enable visa-free travel to more states for Estonian citizens, and to ensure they are better informed while travelling and that travel information reaches them quickly. We also need to ensure that Estonia's connection with its citizens residing abroad is strong and that they are more involved in our society," Reinsalu noted.

The implementation of the development plan and reporting thereon will be carried out through operational programs, which will be updated yearly by March 1. The fulfillment of the development plan will be monitored with various measures, such as Estonia's presence and influence in the world, its position in world competitiveness rankings, Estonia's representations in the world and the availability of its services abroad.

As the next step, the foreign affairs committee of the Riigikogu will present its proposals for the development plan. Subsequently, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs will forward the updated development plan to its partners and other ministries for approval. Finally, the plan also needs to be endorsed by the government.

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