Icelandic foreign minister Gudlaugur Thor Thordarson was in Tallinn Wednesday, meeting his Estonian counterpart Urmas Reinsalu (Isamaa). The pair discussed topics related to the Arctic and Nordic-Baltic cooperation.
Reinsalu said relations between Estonia and Iceland were very strong and friendly, not least since Iceland was the first country in the world to recognise the restoration of Estonia's independence on 22 August 1991, though dating back to the period of the First Estonian Republic in the 1920s.
"In a couple of years, we will be happy to celebrate the centenary of Estonian-Icelandic relations," he added, according to a foreign ministry press release.
Reinsalu also thanked Iceland as the previous coordinator of the X NB8 cooperation format and presented Estonia's priorities as new leader of the group this year.
"Our objectives are based on what Iceland and others have achieved previously," Reinsalu noted, outlining Estonia's five priorities, which comprise regional security, cyber cooperation, connectivity, climate change and environmental issues, and cultural and health cooperation.
Reinsalu and Thordarson agreed that establishing an NB8 prize for notable contributors to the region's cooperation was a good way of highlighting the visibility of the region and the importance of cooperation.
Reinsalu also expressed support to Iceland's Chairmanship of the Arctic Council and to efforts towards improving the work of the council and highlighting the role of its working groups and the role of observers.
He also briefed his Icelandic colleague about Estonia's ambitions to become an observer on the council.
"We support the position that the Arctic must remain a region of low tensions. As a country close to the Arctic, it is Estonia's interest and responsibility to ensure the sustainability of the Arctic," Reinsalu said, noting that Estonian polar researchers have been studying the Arctic for years, and therefore, Estonian researchers could directly contribute to the working groups of the Arctic Council.
Reinsalu also highlighted the excellent digital cooperation between Estonia and Iceland.
"Iceland, alongside Finland and the Faroe Islands, is participating in the work of the Nordic Institute for Interoperability Solutions (NIIS), which is developing and managing the [digital data interoperability solution ] X-Road."
The foreign ministers of Estonia and Iceland agreed on establishing a platform of bilateral cyber cooperation.
The foreign minister also underscored strong regional cooperation on cybersecurity and the readiness of Estonia, as an elected member of the UN Security Council, to work with Iceland.
The ministers also discussed topics related to the European Economic Area (EEA), which Iceland is a member of, the EU, NATO, Russia and China.
Editor: Andrew Whyte