Gallery: Reinsalu urges end to Middle East tensions in debut UNSC speech ({{contentCtrl.commentsTotal}})

Foreign minister Urmas Reinsalu (Isamaa) gave his maiden address at the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) in New York on Thursday, following the start of Estonia's two-year stint as a non-permanent member. Reinsalu focused on tension in the Middle East region in the aftermath of the standoff between the U.S. and Iran.

Reinsalu began with the Ukrainian International Airlines plane crash which killed over 170 people shortly after takeoff from Tehran's airport on Wednesday morning, extending his condolences to friends and family of the victims and stressing the need for independent investigations to determine the cause of the disaster.

Reinsalu also called tensions in the Middle East worrying, condemning both the recent attacks on the U.S. Embassy in Iraq, and the missile attacks on two military bases in Iraq hosting U.S. and other troops – including some Estonian personnel.

The foreign minister called for serious talks and a focus on preventing nuclear weapons proliferation, while calling on countries which respect human rights to behave better in the context of international law.

"It is necessary for the UNSC to respond to serious violations of human rights and international humanitarian law. So far, there has been no end in sight for the tragedy in Syria, for which the Syrian people have paid the highest price," Reinsalu said, adding that states with a veto in the Security Council have a special responsibility.

Reinsalu also noted that violations of international law, including the UN Charter, are still occurring in Europe. He pointed out that both the UNSC and the UN General Assembly had also drawn attention to the violation of the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Ukraine and Georgia. He added that it was important to continue to focus on these issues.

Prior to the discussion, Reinsalu met with Vietnamese Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Pham Binh Minh, with whom he discussed the importance of cooperation between elected members in advancing the UNSC. Bilateral meetings with the Nicaraguan and Hungarian foreign ministers are also reportedly planned.

A luncheon for members of the UNSC, with UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres and a meeting with Under-Secretary-General for Political and Peacebuilding Affairs Rosemary A. DiCarlo, are also on the table.

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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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