Foreign Minister Urmas Reinsalu said the European Union must support the aspirations of the Eastern Partnership (EaP) countries and additional opportunities for cooperation on Thursday.
Reinsalu (Isamaa) took part in a video meeting with the foreign ministers of the European Union and EaP countries, exchanging ideas on the future of the Eastern Partnership and discussing the impact of COVID-19 in Eastern Partnership countries. Belarus, Ukraine, Moldova, Georgia, Armenia and Azerbaijan are the countries of the EU's EaP initiative.
He said EaP countries have made clear progress in meeting their objectives, which advances their cooperation with the European Union.
"The Eastern Partnership is a priority area of Estonia's foreign policy, and it supports the increase of security, stability and prosperity in Europe's neighbourhood. The European Union must continue supporting the ambitions of Eastern Partners," Reinsalu said.
"Maintaining the political ambition of the Eastern Partnership is important because this way, we are also supporting the political association and economic integration of these countries with the European Union."
He emphasised in the context of future discussions, Estonia supports an approach that is as individual as possible so that more cooperation possibilities could be offered to countries that have been more successful in reform efforts.
"We welcome extending cooperation in areas such as digital affairs, trade, the environment, and youth and education. At the same time, we consider it important to include all partners through areas that interest them the most."
Reinsalu noted the crisis had highlighted the vulnerability of EaP countries, which is why the strategic communication capabilities of partner countries must be reinforced and the development of digital solutions for fighting the crisis caused by the COVID-19 pandemic must be supported.
At the meeting, Estonia proposed the creation of a common digital platform of the European Union that would help match innovative solutions to the needs of partner countries.
The EaP is a joint initiative of the EU, its Member States and the six partner countries.
Launched in 2009, the EaP is a strategic and ambitious partnership based on common values and rules, mutual interests and commitments, as well as shared ownership and responsibility.
It aims to strengthen and deepen the political and economic relations between the EU, its Member States and the partner countries, and supports sustainable reform processes in partner countries.
Editor: Helen Wright