At his meeting with French President Emmanuel Macron, Prime Minister Jüri Ratas emphasized the need to preserve the unity of the European Union and focus not on differences but on the values and aims that unite it.
"Since the establishment of the EU, France has been one of its leading countries, and I am happy that France understands its full responsibility in our common Europe," Ratas said according to a government press release. He added that he shared the French president's wish to rapidly move forward with developing a strong and efficient Europe which protects its citizens and offers them new opportunities.
"I sincerely acknowledge President Macron for bringing a strong and cooperation-oriented Europe into the center of his [recent presidential] campaign," said the Estonian prime minister. "For many people, the result of the recent presidential election in France had the impact of being a turning point that brought new energy, hope and optimism to Europe. We understand that we have much more of that which unites member states than that which separates us."
Ratas introduced to Macron the priorities of the upcoming Estonian presidency of the Council of the EU, including an open and innovative European economy, a safe and secure Europe, a digital Europe and the free flow of data as well as an inclusive and sustainable Europe.
He also expressed hope that the French president would be able to attend a summit focused on digital issues to be held in Tallinn at the end of September. "Europe must go along with the technological development that is thoroughly changing the lives of our people, companies and countries," Ratas commented. "Modern e-services and solutions influence our jobs, education, healthcare and general welfare."
Ratas said that Estonia highly appreciates the participation of the French Armed Forces in the NATO battle group stationed in Estonia and expressed hope that French presence there would continue. Estonia and France cooperate closely in various international operations in Africa and the Middle East as well as in cyber defense-related issues. Like France, Estonia supports the deepening of defense cooperation in Europe, increasing its efficiency as well as improving cooperation between the EU and NATO. Ratas also emphasized the need to defend the EU's external borders as well as Estonia's interest in the EU's new cybersecurity strategy.
Other topics discussed at their meeting on Friday included European security, migration, social sector regulations, climate and energy policy as well as Russia's continuing aggression against Ukraine and the need to keep relevant sanctions against Russia in place.
While in France, Ratas also met with representatives of Mouvement des Entreprises de France (MEDEF), France's largest employers' association, in order to promote bilateral economic cooperation.
Editor: Aili Vahtla