Foreign minister: France continues to be major strategic ally for Estonia

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Foreign minister Eva-Maria Liimets together with her French opposite number Jean-Yves Le Drian in Paris Wednesday. Source: Ministry of Foreign Affairs

France continues to be a major partner for Estonia in security and foreign policy issues, foreign minister Eva-Maria Liimets, who was in Paris Wednesday, says. Liimets met her French opposite number, Jean-Yves Le Drian, where the pair signed the bilateral strategic partnership action plan 2021-2025, and reflected on the centennial of the establishment of Franco-Estonian diplomatic relations, plus the upcoming NATO summit next week.

Liimets said that: "Close defense co-operation continues to be one of the cornerstones of Estonia-France relations," after the meeting in Paris Wednesday.

"Additionally, our two countries have stood shoulder-to-shoulder on the UN Security Council (UNSC), ensuring that Europe's voice in global diplomacy is strong and united, and helping to alleviate and prevent conflicts," she continued, according to a foreign ministry press release.

France is a permanent UNSC member, Estonia is in the second year of its temporary membership.

Liimets picked up on the two most prominent examples of Franco-Estonian defense cooperation, thanking France for its efforts in both: The contribution of France to the Tapa-based NATO Enhanced Forward Presence (eFP) Battlegroup, which currently includes the presence of Leclerc heavy tanks, and the French-led Operation Barkhane, which covers a vast area in the Sahel region of Africa and focuses on combating terrorism and human trafficking. Estonia's main contribution, an infantry platoon, is based in Gao, a city in the southwest of Mali.

"Strong relations with France, as one of the most influential countries in Europe and a permanent UNSC member, are very dear to us, also considering that France is to hold the presidency of the EU Council in the first half of 2022," Liimets went on. Estonia held the same presidency in the latter half of 2017.

"Estonia-France relations have been growing closer year by year, covering a very wide range of spheres as of today, from defense cooperation to the digital economy, cyber security and research cooperation," Liimets went on.

"With regard to the forthcoming NATO summit, I emphasized the importance of transatlantic unity and solidarity of the allies, and we discussed common prospects for closer cooperation between NATO and the EU, as well as the process of developing the EU's strategic compass," Liimets went on.

The summit starts next Monday.

The Estonia-France strategic partnership action plan was also signed at Wednesday's meeting.

The action plan focuses on the development of bilateral relations in the areas set out in the Strategic Partnership Declaration as signed by then-prime minister Jüri Ratas (Center) and French president, Emmanuel Macron, in Paris in Autumn 2020.

Liimets also met new Secretary General of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) Mathias Cormann, talking cooperation and joint contributions in areas supporting the development of the world economy.

President Kersti Kaljulaid had last year launched a bid for the post when it became vacant with the end of José Ángel Gurría's term, which recently finished.

Concerns over the situation in Belarus, Ukraine and Russia – the first of which both countries were able to raise at the UNSC at the end of May (Russia is a permanent UNSC member) – were also on the table, the foreign ministry says.

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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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