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Ratas in Kiev: Ukraine's future will affect European security architecture

Estonian Prime Minister Jüri Ratas speaking at the Kyiv Security Forum on Thursday. April 6, 2017.
Estonian Prime Minister Jüri Ratas speaking at the Kyiv Security Forum on Thursday. April 6, 2017. Source: (Government Office/Facebook)

Speaking at the Kyiv Security Forum on Thursday, Estonian Prime Minister Jüri Ratas said that Ukraine's future would determine the design of the European security architecture for the next few decades and called for continued cooperation on European security and stability.

Addressing Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko, attending prime ministers and the rest of the attendees, Ratas highlighted the strong bilateral ties between Estonia and Ukraine and promised to continue to support the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine, according to an Estonian government press release.

"We live in uncertain times," he said. "We see continuous attempts to undermine the peace and rules-based international order and the values of democracy and freedom — including in Europe.

"The future of Ukraine will determine the design of the European security architecture for the next couple of decades," he continued. "Unfortunately, it is not clear whether the European and transatlantic security areas will be governed by international law, agreed norms and principles. Unfortunately, it is not clear whether the sovereignty of each and every nation will be better respected in the future."

The prime minister nonetheless shared a more positive message, saying that they should not give up and instead patiently work together, safeguarding the peace, security and stability in Europe.

He noted that Estonia's position was clear, and that was that sanctions must remain in place until Russia fully respects the principles of international law and implements its commitments under the Minsk agreements so that Ukraine's sovereignty and territorial integrity are restored.

"Estonia will not and cannot accept the illegal annexation of Crimea," Ratas said. "The increasing militarization of Crimea is a shared concern. We need to pay more attention to the deteriorating human rights situation, in particular to the situation of the Crimean Tatars."

'The best response to aggression is a successful and strong Ukraine'

Noting that it was the strength of mind of the people of Ukraine which would determine the country's future, Ratas said that Estonia would strongly support their sovereign and free decision to move closer to Europe.

"You have done a lot," he said, regarding Ukraine's efforts in implementing reforms while simultaneously fighting a war. "But there is still much to do. The best response to Russia's aggression is a successful, politically and economically strong and united Ukraine. To achieve this, the rule of law and the succesful implementation of anti-corruption laws are paramount. Only this way can you ensure that no one can manipulate the legislation, the courts, the prosecutor's office or any other state authority; only this way will doing business become easier and foreign investments be attracted."

The Estonian prime minister also noted that it was important that Ukraine work together with its civil society, which must be a strong partner for the government to fight against corruption, an effort which he cited as a matter of the resilience, security and self-preservation of the country.

Ratas announced that the next Eastern Partnership Summit would take place on Nov. 24 in Brussels, during Estonia's upcoming presidency of the Council of the EU. He highlighted the summit as a good opportunity for Ukrainian leaders to present the results of their reforms and noted that a number of related side events would take place in both Tallinn and Kiev as well.

Editor: Aili Vahtla

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