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Foreign Minister Keit Pentus-Rosimannus about the year in review: Security threats brought the Western Allies closer together in 2014


Foreign Minister Keit Pentus-Rosimannus said in summarising the year 2014, that the security threats both at the eastern edge of Europe and in its southern neighbourhood have made the Western Allies more uniform and stronger over the past year.

"The prerequisite for finding a solution in the conflict between Russia and Ukraine, and also for ending the humanitarian catastrophe in Syria and Iraq is based on effective international cooperation and action. In this complicated security environment, it is very important that the European Union and NATO function together," the Foreign Minister emphasised. She stated that the changed security situation will also continue to add tension to the upcoming year. "In 2015, both NATO and the EU must review their relations with Russia. The key to the improvement of relations lies in the hands of Russia. Russia must stop its aggression towards Ukraine and meet its international obligations. Only then can we speak of the restoration of relations between the EU and NATO with Russia."

According to Pentus-Rosimannus, the past year will also be inevitably remembered by Russia’s blatant violation of international law in the form of kidnapping an Estonian police officer and illegally detaining him in Russia. "This story will not end for various Estonian authorities before Eston Kohver is back at home with his family," the Foreign Minister said.

The year 2014 has also been important for Estonia in terms of developing bilateral and multilateral relations. From the perspective of the security of Estonia and its neighbouring countries, the Foreign Minister considered the strengthening of NATO's collective security and deterrence in the form of NATO’s Readiness Action Plan (RAP), approved at the Wales Summit, to be the most important. "NATO reacted to the changed security situation quickly. NATO allies are now a constant presence in our area, at sea, on land, and in the air, and this is a clear message concerning the Alliance's unity," she added. "As of this spring, the U.S. infantry company is also located in Estonia and the thoroughly prepared Ämari Air Force Base has been introduced as the centre for air policing. Allied units will remain here as long as is necessary," the Foreign Minister stated. Estonia has in turn participated in several international initiatives, including the coalition against ISIL, missions in Mali and the Central African Republic, and also continuously in Afghanistan and Kosovo.

According to the Foreign Minister, Estonia also has many global allies in the e-sector, with whom to cooperate in developing e-services and stand for the free and secure future of the internet.

The Foreign Minister stated that the most important developments were seen in relations between the European Union and its eastern partners, and Eastern Partnership must remain high in European Union policy in 2015 as well. "It's a good thing that European Union Association and Free Trade Agreements were concluded with Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine, however, the conclusion of these agreements was not the ultimate goal, but an intermediate step. Hopefully Eastern Partnership countries will be given a clear message on the European perspective at the Riga Summit next spring," Foreign Minister Pentus-Rosimannus emphasised. "Visa exemption that entered into force for the citizens of Moldova in the spring was an important step in 2014. The new year could also bring a similar agreement between Georgia and the European Union."

The number of crises resulting from natural disasters and hostilities was higher than usual in 2014. The need for helping people in need increased. "Unfortunately, an increasing number of people fighting for their life and livelihood on a daily basis need help from the international community. Providing humanitarian assistance is the moral duty of every upstanding country. Year by year, we want to increase Estonia’s capacity to help people who are suffering from major humanitarian crises. We also participate in the international community's efforts in seeking solutions to end humanitarian crises arising from hostilities," the Foreign Minister added.

In 2014, Estonia has provided humanitarian aid to crisis areas in Ukraine, Syria, South Sudan, Iraq, Afghanistan, the Central African Republic and the Gaza Strip, as well as in West Africa to prevent the spread of Ebola. Also, countries that have suffered from natural disasters, such as Bosnia and Herzegovina, have been supported.

According to Foreign Minister Keit Pentus-Rosimannus, 2014 was an important year in terms of strengthening the energy security of the region. "The development of energy connections with the Nordic and Baltic countries, creating competitiveness in Finland and the Baltic countries to increase gas supply security and the harmonisation of markets, are all necessary steps for ensuring energy security in the region, as well as for increasing competitiveness and economic welfare," the Foreign Minister explained.

Unfortunately, the closing year did not bring a long-awaited solution from India regarding court action against 14 Estonian ship guards, due to which the Indian authorities have not allowed the Estonian citizens to leave India for over a year. "We will not abandon this issue and will continue to support our citizens in this dispute in every way we can within the limits of the power of the Republic of Estonia. It is truly unfortunate that the year is ending without India reaching a solution and without the Estonian citizens finally returning home."

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