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Estonian foreign minister: No one wants to live in a world where Putins roam

Margus Tsahkna.
Margus Tsahkna. Source: Ministry of Foreign Affairs

On Tuesday, Estonian Minister of Foreign Affairs Margus Tsahkna (Eesti 200) presented a report on foreign policy before the Riigikogu, outlining the main objectives and lines of action in Estonia's foreign policy. Tsahkna focused on ways Estonia can help achieve victory for Ukraine and ensure cherished values endure.

Tsahkna said that just as Ukrainians have shown determination to resist Russia's aggression, Estonia has also been determined in its support for Ukraine and will continue to be, until Ukraine achieves victory.

"The Ukrainian state must endure in its territorial integrity. Force should not be the instrument for changing national borders and trampling on sovereignty, not now nor in the future, not in Ukraine nor anywhere else," the minister said. "Aggression must not succeed, it must not become a new acceptable reality. Otherwise, the world will become the domain of force, arrogance, callousness and authoritarianism."

According to Tsahkna, to end the politics of force, it is key to punish the perpetrators of crimes and those who are carrying out the aggression. "No one wants to live in a world where Putins roam, kidnapping and orphaning children, attempting to cancel their neighbors and mining nuclear power plants," the minister said.

"If these kinds of criminals go unpunished it will only encourage future aggressors. Perpetrators of crimes must be punished. They must be brought to justice. The most appropriate way to process the crime of aggression is to create an international tribunal on the recommendation of the UN General Assembly. No position in the world should bring anyone immunity from this.

The minister added that, in line with international law, Russia is obligated to compensate for the damage it has caused in Ukraine. "As long as Russia has not done so, we must find a way to use the frozen or blocked assets of Russia and Russian citizens," Tsahkna said. "Here, too, Estonia leads the way, initiates and inspires. The government has composed a bill that makes it possible to use frozen and blocked assets."

Speaking about Europe's security architecture, Tsahkna said the European Union and NATO are and must remain its foundations, with Ukraine as a member.

"Ukraine must become a member of NATO and the European Union. This is a guarantee that would make the aggressor doubt the effectiveness of its militant and destructive objectives," Tsahkna said.

"Estonia's position is that Ukraine has to receive a clear message about becoming a member at the upcoming NATO Summit in Washington. However, the most important thing is for Putin to become convinced about Ukraine's NATO accession, convinced that there Ukraine is no longer a gray zone."

The minister said that for Ukraine to win the war, it is crucial to continue working on the next packages of sanctions, as well as agree on sustainable and long-term military support for Ukraine. He also highlighted the need to continue isolating Russia internationally and to start rebuilding Ukraine now, so that the people of Ukraine are better able to cope with the brutal consequences of the war.

Tsahkna also said that the world is now an uneasy place, and not only because of Russia's aggression. Faced with a conflict in the Middle East, migratory pressure and climate change, Estonia has to uphold its values and humanity.

"We must safeguard the European Union and NATO, our Allies and friends, with whom we have worked for the same cause for 20 years now," the minister said. "The wars in Ukraine and Gaza demonstrate that our way of life and the principles that underpin democratic society and our own independence need special care, attention and protection."

Tsahkna pointed out that this is why Estonia has launched the Fit for Freedom initiative, which involves three main lines of action. They are the protection of fundamental and human rights, reinforcing the rules-based international order, and integrating the civil society with various levels of policy making.

The full speech is available here.

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Editor: Michael Cole

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