Estonia's foreign policy will continue in its previous direction following European values, Minister of Foreign Affairs Eva-Maria Liimets (Center) said on Monday. Additionally, diplomats or foreign missions will no longer be barred from showing support for LGBT+ issues.
Liimets was sworn in as foreign minister last Tuesday after the new Reform-Center government took office. She appeared on ETV's foreign affairs program "Välisilm" on Monday evening to discuss the new government's foreign policy positions.
The minister said Estonia's image in the world is good and connected to the e-state and digital solutions. She does not believe the country's long-term reputation has been damaged by the previous government or its scandals.
"Estonia has many strengths, on the basis of which Estonia has been able to be an active and reliable ally and partner in both the European Union and NATO. Some of the scandals that have arisen in the past few years are not really going to do long-term damage to Estonia's reputation," she said.
Unlike former Minister of Foreign Affairs Urmas Reinsalu (Isamaa), Liimets will not stop Estonian ambassadors from showing support for sexual minorities.
"Human rights policy in foreign policy is an extremely important issue and it is also part of our security policy and ensures [our] security. It is very important for us that we in Estonia are protected by European values and the wider this European values space is around us, in our region, the better it is for our security," she said.
"Estonia has made the protection of same-sex rights a priority in its foreign policy in the past, and also when we were a candidate for the Human Rights Council. We will certainly return to these principles."
Estonia concerned about human rights abuses in Russia
She said Estonia is concerned about human rights abuses in Russia and has already discussed the issue with Latvia and Lithuania, adding the issue has already been on the table for several months in connection with the poisoning of Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny and then his imprisonment.
Liimets said Estonian diplomats have tried to discuss the issue with European Union Minister for Foreign Affairs Josep Borrell: "So that if he goes to Moscow, for example, he would ask for a meeting with Navalny. These are the tools with which we are trying to help and deal with this situation and ensure Estonia's interests in this matter."
The foreign minister also said it is important the European view is coordinated with the USA's especially if the issue of sanctions is discussed.
Liimets considering joining the Center Party
Under the new government, the Center Party holds the portfolio of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs for the first time and Liimets moved to the role from the position of Estonia's Ambassador to the Czech Republic.
It was reported last week that she is not a member of the Center Party but is considering joining the party in the future. She told "Välisilm" she had not yet made a final decision.
Liimets said she had not yet read the agreement signed between the Center Party and Russian political party United Russia a decade ago, but has been assured it will not affect the party's policies. She said she plans to read it in the future.
Editor: Helen Wright