Minister of Foreign Affairs Eva-Maria Liimets (Center) highlighted the need for equal access to vaccines at a UN Security Council meeting that discussed the COVID-19 pandemic in conflict areas.
Liimets reiterated Estonia's unwavering support to the Secretary-General's call for a global ceasefire in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. She highlighted the need to ensure unhindered humanitarian access to conflict areas and make sure that no one is excluded from vaccination programmes.
"It takes a joint effort from all parties to emerge from the global health and accompanying economic crisis caused by the COVID-19 pandemic," Liimets said. "We will not be able to restore international trade, travel, prosperity and security until COVID-19 is under control everywhere in the world. Estonia, just like other European Union member states, remains committed to the equitable and fair distribution of vaccines. We are only as strong as the weakest link in the global health system."
The foreign minister stressed: "We also consider it crucial that the public is notified with information based on facts and science, and that media is secure free, independent and pluralistic, both online and offline."
The protection of human rights, including freedom of expression, is critical in the response to and recovery from the pandemic, she said. Estonia condemns all attempts to use the COVID-19 pandemic as a pretext for disrespecting the rule of law, curtailing human rights, and restricting civic space.
Liimets also said we must make full use of the potential of digital technologies to overcome the crisis everywhere, and addressing cybersecurity is becoming increasingly important.
"I am also glad to note that in October last year, Estonia and the World Health Organisation signed an agreement, allowing Estonia to develop a smart vaccination certificate that would be valid worldwide," the foreign minister said on February 17.
Additionally, Estonia has called for the vaccine to be made available to the EU's Eastern Partnership countries, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine.
In January, Estonia was among 13 European Union countries that said: "Our borders will not be safe if we do not extend our support to our immediate neighbours".
Editor: Helen Wright