Minister of Foreign Affairs Urmas Reinsalu (Isamaa) attended the Foreign Affairs Council in Brussels on Monday, where he and other foreign affairs ministers of the European Union discussed relations with Africa as well as the state of human rights in the world. The meeting was chaired by the new EU high representative Josep Borrell for the first time.
The security and stability of the EU are linked to Africa, and in order to achieve practical results in stopping irregular migration to Europe, it is necessary to work toward agreements that would guarantee effective border controls and a functioning return system and which would be connected to other areas of cooperation, Reinsalu said according to a press release.
"Estonia is committed to supporting the internal security of the Sahel states," he said, noting that the country is supporting Mali in its fight against terrorism and just recently increased its contribution to the French-led Operation Barkhane.
"Estonia can also definitely amplify the voice of the EU at the UN Security Council, where many topics are linked to the security of Africa and where we will be heading the Sudan Sanctions Committee as an elected member," he added.
Reinsalu also underscored that digital transformation was one means of providing broad support for the stability of African states and establishing business relations, highlighting digitalization and e-governance as examples. There is great interest in Estonia's experience, and this should also play a role in the Africa strategy currently being drawn up in the EU, he said.
On the eve of International Human Rights Day, which is celebrated on Tuesday, the EU's foreign ministers also discussed the human rights situation in the world.
Estonia is particularly concerned about restrictions on civil society and democracy online, according to the foreign ministry.
One such example cited by Reinsalu was the recent "sovereign internet" law in Russia, which grants law enforcement unprecedented control over internet traffic. The minister also condemned the systematic violation of the human rights of Crimean Tatars on the occupied Crimean peninsula.
Reinsalu, Latvian Minister for Foreign Affairs Edgars Rinkevics and Lithuanian Minister of Foreign Affairs Linas Linkevicius met with Borrell to discuss the Baltics' foreign policy priorities and the continued importance of the EU's current policy toward Russia.
On Monday morning, the Estonian minister attended a breakfast with his Albanian and North Macedonian colleagues, where he expressed Estonia's support for rapid progress in launching accession negotiations.
Editor: Aili Vahtla