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Paet Discussed Iceland’s Accession to EU and Afghanistan Elections with Baltic and Nordic Colleagues

22.08.2009

While talking about the accession of Iceland into the European Union during the meeting of the foreign ministers of the Nordic and Baltic countries (NB8 – Nordic-Baltic 8) in Reykjavik, Foreign Minister Urmas Paet emphasised that EU enlargement in Northern Europe is a welcome development. Paet stated that Estonia is prepared to support in any way possible the accession negotiations with Iceland, which are to begin soon, and Iceland’s accession to the EU. “I am pleased that Icelandic experts are already becoming familiar with Estonia’s accession experience, and we hope that we can support them with our advice throughout the entire accession negotiation process,” said Foreign Minister Paet.

At their meeting, the foreign ministers also addressed the elections that took place in Afghanistan on 20 August. Foreign Minister Urmas Paet stated that the elections held the day before yesterday play an essential role in the formation of Afghanistan’s future. “The presidential and provincial council elections carried out by the state authorities are a clear indication of the firm desire of the Afghan people to continue building up their own state,” said Paet.

The foreign ministers of the Nordic and Baltic countries also talked at the meeting about matters related to the Arctic. Foreign Minister Urmas Paet acknowledged that regardless of how far away it is, issues relating to the Arctic are of global importance and have an effect on the countries in our region. “Since globally important environmental and security issues are tied to the Arctic, increasing the role of the European Union with regards to the Arctic is essential, as is achieving observer status for the European Union in the Arctic Council,” Paet noted.

The Arctic Council is a high-level inter-governmental forum with the goal of developing co-operation, co-ordination and interaction among the Arctic nations. The member states are Canada, Denmark (along with the Faroe Islands and Greenland), Finland, Iceland, Norway, Russia, Sweden, and the USA. There are also observer nations and organisations involved in the Council.

The ministers also discussed questions of energy security. During the meeting they agreed that in order to increase energy security, it is necessary to create additional energy connections among the Baltic and Nordic countries and to establish a common Nordic-Baltic energy market. “An important milestone in moving towards this goal was the creation and approval of the Baltic Energy Market Interconnection Plan (BEMP),” said Paet. Foreign Minister Paet also emphasised that in order to create a common Nordic-Baltic energy market, a more powerful Estlink2 must be built in addition to the existing Estlink1 between Estonia and Finland.

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