In his annual address to the Riigikogu on Tuesday, Minister of Foreign Affairs Sven Mikser (SDE) focused on security, the future of Europe, the protection of Estonia's citizens and the promotion of its business interests.
In recent years, one of the most fundamental challenges for democracies has been the challenge posed to liberal democratic values, but giving up these values under populist pressure is an error Estonia cannot permit itself to make, Mikser said according to a ministry press release.
The international relations system, based on rules that take the country's convictions into account, has allowed Estonia to secure its liberty, security and prosperity, he said. "This system will continue to serve us well if we just care enough for it together with our allies and partners," he added.
"Today, both the philosophy and practice of foreign policy rests on a stable foundation, but we will have to be bolder and more creative in the future," Mikser continued. "We have to be open to the world around us, engage in cooperation and support other countries and peoples who so badly need it."
NATO, EU cooperation key against security threats
On the subject of security, Mikser noted that the best antidote to any security threat is the unity of allies and partners who share the same values.
"Just as important as NATO's military readiness is solidarity in the EU, along with EU and NATO cooperation," he added, noting that a greater contribution from European allies would of course also improve Atlantic security.
The minister is convinced that Estonia's security interests will be best protected if the UN Security Council includes a country that is located in the region and shares similar values and a similar perception of security, which is why Estonia is seeking a non-permanent seat on the UN Security Council for the 2020-2021 period.
Future of Europe in our own hands
On the subject of the future of Europe, Mikser emphasized that maintaining people's faith and trust in Europe is of critical importance, and that Estonia should not forget that the future of the EU is in their own hands.
"No decision in Europe is reached without us participating in it, and, richer by the experience of our successful presidency [of the Council of the EU], we can become one of the leaders of future development in the EU," Mikser said, calling on people to join the discussions on the future of Europe.
The foreign minister also emphasised the importance of the EU's capability to take action in crises. "The EU's common position on the Russian aggression against Ukraine underscores this, as it firmly upholds the fundamental principles of the European security architecture and deplores flagrant violations of international law," Mikser stated, adding that Estonia and other partners continue to provide support for key reforms in Ukraine and other Eastern Partnership countries and will continue to support their European aspirations as well.
Diplomacy most effective way to ensure security
Speaking about the protection of Estonia's citizens, the minister confirmed that Estonians can count on assistance anywhere in the world if needed, and that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has done everything it can to offer solutions even in the most difficult of situations. He also recognized the dedication of economic diplomats to the protection of the interests of Estonian entrepreneurs.
In his closing statement, Mikser stressed that more resources must be invested into the foreign service in complicated times.
"In the end, diplomacy is the most effective, and actually the most cost-effective, means of ensuring our security," he emphasized in conclusion. "The security, economic well-being and sense of security of the people of Estonia will continue to be the primary function and source of inspiration for foreign policy activity. Foreign policy does not serve itself; it works for the interests of our people."
Read Mikser's address to the Riigikogu in full here.
Editor: Aili Vahtla