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Ratas to Merkel: Safe, successful Europe is our common interest

German Chancellor Angela Merkel with Prime Minister Jüri Ratas in Berlin on Thursday. June 15, 2017.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel with Prime Minister Jüri Ratas in Berlin on Thursday. June 15, 2017. Source: (Ave Tampere/Government Communication Unit)

Prime Minister Jüri Ratas said at his meeting with Chancellor of Germany Angela Merkel on Thursday that a safe and successful is in the interest of both Estonia and Germany, and this can be strengthened by a unified, strong and economically successful European Union.

"We are grateful for Germany's contributions to the security of the Baltic region within both the EU and NATO," Ratas was quoted by government spokespeople as saying. "I am glad that Germany has committed to achieving the objective of spending two percent of GDP on defense. Germany is definitely one of the most important allies but also one of the most crucial trading partners to Estonia."

Topics of Ratas and Merkel's meeting included migration issues, security, the regulation of the internal market and social affairs as well as climate and energy policy in light of the upcoming Estonian presidency of the Council of the EU. The Estonian prime minister also introduced to Merkel the priorities of the Estonian presidency, which is set to begin on July 1.

"During the Estonian presidency, we want to maintain the competency and unity of the EU and achieve tangible results for all Europeans," Ratas said. "In order to ensure that the EU will advance in a united manner, we need to strike a balance between different interests that have emerged with regard to several complex issues."

On the subject of the migration crisis, Ratas emphasized that it is important to strengthen the protection of the EU's external borders and maintain control to tackle this issue. "It is neither possible nor necessary to lock Europe up, however both physical and digital capabilities supporting border security should be strengthened," he said. "We need to use modern technological solutions and improve the exchange of information between countries, and it is equally important to enhance the implementation of common decisions." He also recognized Germany's great efforts in tackling the migration crisis.

The Estonian prime minister said that as for energy policy, Estonia supports a more integrated and stronger Europe. "The EU needs to continue with the development of a single energy market, improving energy security and establishing cross-border energy links," said Ratas. "This work should result in an energy system that is accessible, affordable, sustainable and secure for European companies and citizens. It is perfectly clear that the EU will not withdraw from the current Paris Agreement and the Estonian presidency will carry on implementing it."

The meeting also focused on the situation in Ukraine, relations with Rusia and the EU's Eastern Partnership. Ratas said that it is in the EU's interests to strengthen stability, welfare and security in the union's immediate neighborhood by supporting the efforts of Europe's Eastern partners and their structural reforms. "By helping Eastern partners we also directly contribute to the security and stability of Europe," he noted.

At their meeting, Ratas and Merkel also recognized the EU's Erasmus student exchange program, which is celebrating its 30th anniversary, for serving as an excellent example of outstanding cooperation at the European level, widening the horizons of young people and providing new knowledge.

Editor: Aili Vahtla

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