Prime Minister Jüri Ratas (Center) was in Stockholm Friday, meeting with his Swedish counterpart, Stefan Löfven (SAP), and various business leaders, and noting the importance of maintaining the fight against money laundering.
"Sweden is our close partner and friend with whom we are engaging in extensive cooperation," Ratas said after the meeting, adding that: "We have very good economic relations and we are close partners in the EU This year, Estonia is the presiding country of Nordic and Baltic cooperation, which gives us an opportunity to meet even more often," according to BNS.
The two leaders highlighted money laundering as a target for improvement; recent money laundering scandals have hit both of Estonia's biggest retail banks, Swedbank and SEB, which are Swedish owned – with reports by Swedish public broadcaster SVT doing much of the initiation of investigations.
To that end, Ratas also met representatives of both banks Friday, noting their central importance to the Estonian economy and the need to leave the way clear for regulatory bodies and law enforcement agencies to do their work, without hampering day-to-day banking activities for ordinary citizens going about their business honestly. In addition, Ratas met with Swedish entrepreneurs over lunch.
While meeting Stefan Löfven, Ratas also noted the importance of meeting the EU's climate neutrality goals by 2050 – a line which the current coalition adopted late last year to coincide with Kadri Simson (Center) becoming the new commissioner from Estonia, with the energy portfolio.
"An important role in [meeting EU requirements] is played by the European Commission's plan for a Just Transition Mechanism, which must emerge as support for the Estonian oil shale sector as well," Ratas said. The oil shale sector centered in eastern Estonia employs thousands, but is largely not in line with the drive towards harmony with EU expectations.
Ratas also met representatives of the long-established Estonian community in Sweden on Friday, saying that "global Estonianness" is one of the goals of the Estonian government, with a program being drawn up by the population minister (currently Riina Solman (Isamaa)-ed.) for 2021. Many Swedes with Estonian heritage are descended from the so-called coastal Swedes, who inhabited parts of the country's western archipelago as well as mainland areas and who mostly fled the impending Soviet occupation towards the end of World War Two.
"We talked about their challenges, companies' investment plans and plans for enlargement. I emphasized that there are very good business opportunities and investment climate in Estonia," Ratas said. "Sweden is a very important trading partner for us and a country with a strong and competitive economy."
Editor: Andrew Whyte