During the annual 16+1 summit of 11 EU member states, 5 Western Balkan states (CEEC) and China held in Budapest on Monday, Prime Minister Jüri Ratas (Center) also met separately with Hungarian Prime Minister Victor Orbán, Serbian Prime Minister Ana Brnabić and Montenegrin Prime Minister Duško Marković.
At his meeting with Orbán, Ratas discussed the current state of the Estonian presidency of the Council of the EU and Estonian-Hungarian relations, according to a government press release.
"As we approach the end of the Estonian presidency, we are currently striving in the digital field, for example, to reach an agreement on a single digital market and the free movement of digital data," Ratas said.
"When it comes to migration, a burning topic is the funding of the EU Trust Fund for Africa, which is always short on funds," he continued. "Estonia has contributed €1.45 million to the fund." The goal of the EU Trust Fund for Africa is to help restore stability in the most vulnerable African countries in an effort to encourage the people living there would not undertake the life-threatening journey to Europe in hopes of securing a better future for themselves there.
Ratas also told the Hungarian prime minister that he was pleased by Hungary's decision to participate in PESCO, the EU's strucured defense cooperation initiative, and greatly appreciates Hungary's contributions to the security of the Baltic states. From June to October this year, Hungarian troops were stationed at Taara Army Base in Võru, where they trained together with Estonian troops.
Both Serbia and Montenegro are candidate states for membership in the EU. Ratas recognized the European aspirations of both countries and affirmed that Estonia is making efforts during its current presidency to move forward with accession talks and to open new chapters with both countries this year.
"Estonia's trade relations with Serbia and Montenegro are reserved," Ratas said. "It is my hope that our information technology companies and e-government developers are able to find greater opportunities for cooperation."
Ratas also met in Budapest with Premier of the State Council of the People's Republic of China Li Keqiang, with whom he discussed Estonia's railway connections and opportunities to function as a regional e-commerce distribution center.
From Budapest, Ratas will be traveling on to Abidjan, Côte d'Ivoire, to participate in the African Union-EU summit taking place on Nov. 29-30. The Estonian prime minister will be accompanied there by a business delegation comprised primarily of representatives from IT and telecommunications companies.
Editor: Aili Vahtla