President Alar Karis kicked off his official visit to the Netherlands on Thursday. The president met with leading politicians, opened an Estonian collection at the Amsterdam Public Library and visited the Erasmus University Rotterdam.
During his meeting with Dutch leaders, Karis talked about the need to support Ukraine's EU accession and provide the country with a NATO membership roadmap, the Office of the President communicated.
"Ukraine belongs in the European Union and NATO once the war ends. That is why the country needs a clear and realistic accession roadmap from NATO, the Estonian president said when meeting with Dutch PM Mark Rutte.
The president praised Estonia's brilliant relations with the Netherlands, including in terms of shared values, close cooperation in EU, NATO and other international organizations, such as the International Criminal Court.
The president discussed the need for continued Ukraine support with President of the Senate Jan Anthonie Bruijn and Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives Roelien Kamminga.
On the subject of Ukraine's desire to join the EU, President Karis said the country is pursuing reforms necessary for one day becoming a full member of the union at the same time as brutal war rages.
"The Ukrainians have made notable efforts in combating corruption and strengthening rule of law. They are determined to keep reforms on the EU accession track. It is important that Ukraine has support from the EU on their path to membership," Karis suggested.
Meeting topics included preparations for the NATO Vilnius summit and defense investments necessary to reinforce the alliance's deterrence and defensive posture.
NATO expansion was not forgotten. "Our aim is to expand the area where people can live in peace. And reduce the European gray area of uncertain security where liberties are at risk from imperial ambitions," the Estonian president said. Karis suggested that the upcoming NATO summit in Vilnius needs to give Ukraine a clear activity plan for accession. He also highlighted the importance of making sure Sweden is able to join NATO as soon as possible.
Topics included making sure there will be legal consequences for Russia for all the crimes it has committed in Ukraine and a special tribunal for investigating the Putin regime's crimes of aggression. Making use of frozen Russian assets in rebuilding Ukraine also made the agenda.
During the meeting with parliament representatives, Karis praised cooperation that saw Estonia, the Netherlands and Norway donate a field hospital to Ukraine. "We remain open to similar projects in the future," he added. Estonia and the Netherlands will continue to support Ukraine politically and in terms of military and humanitarian aid.
The sides also discussed opportunities for trade, renewables, cybersecurity and digitalization, with Estonia serving as an example to the Netherlands in the latter.
Karis opens Estonian collection at Amsterdam Library
President Karis on Friday opened an Estonian collection made up of 300 books at the House of All Languages of the Amsterdam Library. The works by Estonian authors range from fiction to encyclopedias. The collection is a special undertaking by the Estonian embassy and community in the Netherlands, as well as the first collection of books from the Nordic-Baltic region in the library, the Office of the President said.
"When I thought about an Estonian collection at the Amsterdam Public Library, I was reminded of a thought by former Estonian President and writer Lennart Meri. 'Europe is not a soup but rather a mosaic where every rock, no matter how small, is its own color.'" Karis suggested. "Centers like these help us see the colors of different cultures and navigate their wealth the world over successfully."
"Knowledge and appreciation of cultures helps us live together sensibly and avoid destructive conflicts. Ignorance and intolerance breed hatred and destruction, which we can see in Russia's war against Ukraine," Karis said.
"But even as we are gathered here in a library, we must realize that neither the Gutenberg press nor the internet make us wiser or the world better in themselves. These inventions have created new opportunities, while it is up to us to use them wisely and in the service of the common good. During an age thick with information, what we need are critical eyes and the ability to separate the vital from the insignificant, which is where the library helps us preserve the highest wisdom of all – to remain open to learning new things in every situation."
The Estonian collection includes works by Jaan Kross, A. H. Tammsaare, Viivi Luik, Karl Ristikivi, Andrus Kivirähk, Sofi Oksanen, Valdur Mikita, Eno Raud and Aino Pervik. It also includes books written by Estonians in exile in the 1950s to 1970s. The collection was assembled by the Estonian Embassy in the Netherlands, Estonian National Library and the Estonian House in the Netherlands.
The president on Friday visited the Erasmus University Rotterdam where he has worked as a research fellow. He gave a speech to students and researchers about challenges on the path to peace in Europe. President Alar Karis also met with Estonian honorary consuls in the Netherlands, as well as Estonian entrepreneurs and their partners.
Editor: Marcus Turovski