Prime Minister at OGP summit: USAID cooperation excellent, set to intensify

Kaja Kallas with USAID Administrator Samantha Power in Tallinn, September 7, 2023.
Kaja Kallas with USAID Administrator Samantha Power in Tallinn, September 7, 2023. Source: Government Office / Jürgen Randma

Estonia is fully on-board with a deepening of its already strong cooperation with the US Agency for International Development (USAID), Prime Minister Kaja Kallas (Reform) says.

Kallas said Thursday that: "In the last 12 years, we have implemented nearly 20 projects together, which have focused on promoting transparent, inclusive and responsible governance," calling cooperation between Estonia and USAID a great success.

Prime Minister Kallas had met with the head of USAID, Administrator Samantha Power, within the framework of the Open Government Partnership (OGP) Global Summit, in its second day Thursday, to discuss opportunities for strengthening cooperation.

"We have cooperated in Moldova, the Western Balkans and Afghanistan," the prime minister went on, via a government office press release. "Estonia plans to further deepen the current excellent cooperation with USAID and expand it to other regions, such as Africa, by focusing on digital cooperation and education topics."

Thursday's meeting, at the Telliskivi Creative City (Loomelinnak), also involved long discussions relating to Russia's aggression in Ukraine and assistance to the latter country. "We need to help Ukraine rebuild the country now. I believe there are ways to cooperate with USAID in rebuilding Ukraine, for instance, in the digital field and development of e-governance, but also in modernizing."

Giving the OGP summit closing remarks on Thursday, Administrator Power praised Estonia's trailblazing status in the use of tech in developing democracy and open governance, saying: "Estonia has long been the model for how technology can be harnessed for civic progress – one of the ideas upon which the Open Government Partnership was founded more than a decade ago."

"No country, it's safe to say, has all the answers, but Estonia really offers powerful inspiration, showing not only how technology can improve the performance of government, but also how it can dramatically expand the involvement of citizens in governance. That is what has been so radical about what Estonia has shown. And let us not also forget what Estonia has shown – in a slightly different way – they have shown, you have shown, how smaller countries can successfully reject bullying by larger countries – all the while, building stronger institutions and stronger economies" Administrator Power went on, according to a U.S. Embassy in Tallinn press release.

Administrator Power thanked Kaja Kallas and the Government of Estonia for hosting the OGP summit, and underscored the value of U.S.-Estonia bilateral cooperation on supporting Ukraine, countering Russia, and promoting digital solutions to global challenges.

Power and Kallas were joined by European Commissioner for International Partnerships Jutta Urpilainen, a former finance minister of Finland, and Nobel Peace Prize laureate Maria Ressa, on the summit's closing-out panel.

Kallas added that: "What resonated with me most from the discussions at this summit is that equal partnership between the state, civil society and the private sector is key to initiating and delivering change. The example of Estonia and many other countries shows that this kind of equal partnership yields very good results. Let us use this potential, because everybody can win from this,."

Administrator Samantha Power was part of a delegation of 40 U.S. officials visiting Estonia this week, for both the OGP summit and the Tallinn Digital Summit, earlier in the week.

Her visit demonstrates the U.S. commitment to continued cooperation with Estonia and other partners, in working towards ensuring more open, transparent, and accountable governance, the U.S. embassy says.

Administrator Power also visited the Freedom School (Vabaduse Kool) in Tallinn, and met with Ukrainian students there, and was welcomed in Estonia by U.S. Ambassador George P. Kent, who said: "The cooperation between our two countries demonstrates that as NATO allies, stalwart supporters of Ukraine, and partners for democracy and rule of law, the United States and Estonia truly are stronger together."

USAID was created in 1961 by President John F. Kennedy, with the aim of providing and administering vital humanitarian assistance around the world, in order to save lives, reduce poverty, strengthen democracy and help people progress beyond that assistance.  The organization currently works in over 100 countries worldwide.


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Editor: Andrew Whyte

Source: Government Office, US Embassy in Tallinn

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