Kallas: Estonia and Sweden must progress on ferry disaster investigation

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Kaja Kallas on the phone with Stefan Löfven Friday. Source: Government Office.

New prime minister Kaja Kallas (Reform) has welcomed a change to the law in Sweden which will allow official dives to the wreck of the MS Estonia, ahead of a potential new, independent investigation into the 1994 disaster, which claimed 852 lives.

The new Estonian prime minister said: "This is a path that Estonia, Finland and Sweden must go through together."

Kallas had made a phone call with Swedish counterpart Stefan Löfven Friday, the latest in a round of such contacts the new prime minister has made with leaders of Estonia's nearest EU neighbors.

"We are in unanimity that the investigation should be led by independent institutions. The new Estonian government has a firm desire to go ahead with the investigation of the wreck of the Estonia and is glad that Sweden will change its legislation, which will enable to start underwater surveys at the wreck," Kallas continued, according to BNS.

Footage illegally obtained in 2019 which ended up in a documentary that aired in Sweden last year showed a large hole in the wreck's hull, which has prompted a new round of speculation that the officially reported cause of the disaster is inaccurate.

MS Estonia grave site subject to international agreement

The site is protected by an agreement between several countries, and diving to or near the wreck is illegal under Swedish law. The maker of last year's documentary, a Swedish national, is currently residing in Norway, according to reports, and may face jail time if he returns to his home land.

The two prime ministers also doubled down on their commitment to combating money laundering, a pertinent issue given that a major case involving billions of potentially illicit funds was linked to the Estonian branch of Swedbank, with another involving Swedish-owned bank SEB.

Kaja Kallas said: "Estonia is not a place for money laundering and the new government takes the fight against suspicious transactions extremely seriously."

Also on the table was the 100 years since the two countries established diplomatic relations, which will be marked on February 5.

Other topics on the table included the pursuit of green energy via wind farms and other routes.

Kallas said that Estonia and Sweden share values and would benefit from further cooperation in the region.

Prior to World War Two and the ensuing Soviet occupation of Estonia, significant communities of Swedish-speakers lived on Estonia's west coast and many of its offshore islands, most notably Vormsi.

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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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