Prime Minister Jüri Ratas (Center) emphasized the importance of greater cooperation in matters of European security in his meeting with the German president. German president Frank-Walter Steinmeier, on a two-day visit to Estonia, met with Ratas on Tuesday.
“The Estonian presidency of the Council of the European Union started with a wave of optimism. The European economy is growing, unemployment is decreasing, and people are again supporting and trusting the EU more. I can feel how the 27 member states wish to shape the future of Europe together,” Ratas said in a press release on Tuesday evening.
“However, recent events in Spain, Finland, Germany and France show that we have to make more efforts in creating security for the people. It means combatting terrorism, better control of the refugee flow in the Mediterranean, and cooperation with the close neighbours of Europe. And also the more effective returning of people who have no right to be in Europe to their home country,” he added.
But helping those people who fled to Europe or its immediate neighbourhood to escape conflict was equally important. “Last week I visited the office of the International Organisation for Migration in Gaziantep in Turkey, where I saw the remarkable work Germany is doing in the reunification of refugee families. Losing close ones and being apart from them is very hard,” Ratas said.
He also acknowledged Germany for its processing of an enormous number of asylum applications: 1.1 million applications were submitted in Germany in 2015 and 2016 alone, 200 percent of the total of the entire preceding decade.
Ratas’ meeting with President Steinmeier mainly focused on key topics of the European Union. Apart from security and defense cooperation, the digital development of Europe is a core point of the ongoing Estonian EU council presidency. As Ratas has repeatedly stressed, Europe should not simply tag along, but set the pace in the global digital sphere.
Bilateral relations were also discussed. The prime minister stressed the good relationship of Estonia and Germany. “Germany contributes actively to the security of the Baltic states in air policing, cyber defense, joint operations, and exercises. Germany is one of the most important trade partners of Estonia. Year by year, we can see an increase in the number of German tourists in Estonia, and hopefully also German investments,” Ratas said.
Steinmeier will give a speech at the Estonian Academy of Sciences today Wednesday, where he will also meet with members of the government and the Riigikogu.
Editor: Dario Cavegn