The Estonian government has approved the 2013 report on development co-operation and humanitarian aid.
Minister of Foreign Affairs Urmas Paet said that last year, Estonia provided most assistance to Afghanistan, Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine as part of its bilateral development co-operation framework. "Most of our bilateral development co-operation is directed at ensuring peace, human rights, democracy and the rule of law," he said.
According to Paet, Estonia has contributed to those areas of development co-operation in which it is best able to share its extensive experience in reforms and good governance.
He added: "Partner countries are very interested in our e-government, IT solutions and integration with the euro zone. Estonian priority targets in development aid are the Eastern Partnership countries Ukraine, Georgia, Moldova, Belarus, Armenia and Azerbaijan; and Afghanistan."
In Paet's opinion, the increase of relevant funds and more effective use of Estonia's aid mean that future assistance should be directed toward long-term and geographically and sectorally narrower projects.
"These actions should follow the strategies and interests of the target country, which helps to ensure a wider influence and results of the aid we provide in narrower areas," Paet said, adding that the ministry has already finished country-specific strategies for Moldova and Georgia, and next year one will be put together for Ukraine as well.
Estonian budget for humanitarian aid is 2.5 million euros
Minister Paet also said that due to multitude of crises around the world, a growing number of people are in need of humanitarian aid.
"Estonia's increasing contribution to relieve global humanitarian crises is connected to the growth of our ability to provide rescue and humanitarian aid. The size of the financial aid, as well as our support to the already functioning systems to provide this aid, humanitarian principles and our obedience to international humanitarian law, are all important," he said. In 2013 Estonia allocated 2.5 million euros to humanitarian causes.
Development co-operation as an important area of foreign policy was first planned and initial projects implemented in Estonia in 1998. The activities of the Estonian public sector in these areas are regulated by the Strategy for Estonian Development Co-operation and Humanitarian Aid 2011-2015.