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Estonia continues to offer support to Ukraine, allocates funds for humanitarian crisis relief

The Estonian Ministry of Foreign Affairs will support the alleviation of the humanitarian crisis in Ukraine with €400,000 to help restore housing and the supply of drinking water as well as alleviate the situation of people forced to leave their homes.

"Armed conflict in Eastern Ukraine which has lasted for almost three years has had a devastating effect on the region and the recent shelling of civilian objects and residence in Avdiivka has aggravated the humanitarian crisis," Minister of Foreign Affairs Sven Mikser said according to a press release on Tuesday. "It is a serious violation of international humanitarian law. Due to escalated military conflict around Avdiivka, almost 20,000 people are suffering from lack of water, heat and electricity in winter conditions. Estonia will contribute to the alleviation of the situation."

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs supports the alleviation of the humanitarian crisis in Ukraine through the International Committee of the Red Cross with 200,000€ and through the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees with 200,000€.

Monday's meeting of EU foreign ministers in Brussels focuses on Ukraine

Foreign ministers of the EU who met in Brussels on Monday expressed concern over military action in Avdiivka, Eastern Ukraine which has escalated during the past week as wel as condemned recent attacks against civilians. According to Mikser, who attended the meeting, it is most important to support Ukraine and continue with efforts to find a peaceful solution to the situation.

He found that a permanent ceasefire is the key to solving the conflict. "As long as military action in the east does not cease, implementing reforms in Kiev is difficult, especially reforms related to the Minsk agreements," he said. According to the Estonian minister, the recent escalation of military action demonstrates that Russia is avoiding obligations it took on under the Minsk agreements. "Europe and [those who are] like-minded must be consistent in imposing sanctions on Russia until it fulfills the Minsk agreements," Mikser stressed, adding that one must be prepared to strengthen sanctions if the situation deteriorates.

The foreign ministers of the EU confirmed that despite the difficult situation it was in, Ukraine has made progress in reforming the country's economic, financial and energy sectors. Mikser said that it is important to quickly implement changes in the judicial system, the fight against corruption and the creation of a better business climate as well.

Estonia continues to offer multifaceted support

According to Mikser, Estonia continues to support Ukraine in this regard by sharing its own experiences with reform. Priorities of the 2017 development cooperation include introducing good governance and supporting the business environment and education by utilizing the opportunities offered by ICT solutions. Estonia also continues to participate in different EU assistance programs, e.g. the e-State Academy participates in a program to improve administrative capacity, and Estonian experts take part in EU and OSCE missions in Ukraine. Estonia is likewise interested in participating in an upcoming project on the fight against corruption.

The Estonian minister noted that in relation to the upcoming third anniversary of the illegal annexation of Crimea in March, it is important to keep this topic up to date on the EU agenda.

The EU's foreign ministers also discussed political fragmentation in Libya, options to make the region more stable and end the political conflict, the political situation in Egypt as well as the Middle East peace process.

Editor: Editor: Aili Vahtla

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