At Tuesday's meeting with UN Secretary-General António Guterres, Prime Minister Jüri Ratas (Center) discussed the military conflicts in Syria and Ukraine, among other topics.
Ratas noted at the meeting that the main objective in Syria is to end the suffering of its people, ensure that humanitarian aid reaches those in need as well as help people return to their homes safely, according to a government press release.
"It is very difficult to come up with a solution to the political crisis in Syria, but we must aim to find one," said the Estonian head of state. "The use of a monstrous chemical weapon on innocent people calls for an unbiased and independent investigation. People committing crimes against humanity must be held responsible."
Thus far, Estonia has contributed a total of €7 million to provide humanitarian aid to Syria, An additional €1.3 million has been earmarked for contribution this year and next to the alleviation of the humanitarian needs of locals and improve the living situations of Syrian refugees in Lebanon, Jordan and Turkey. Estonia has also accepted 173 Syrian refugees since 2015.
The ongoing conflict in Eastern Ukraine, meanwhile, has directly affected the lives of five million people, about 3.8 million of whom depend on humanitarian aid for daily subsistence. Another 1.6 million people are internally displaced within the country.
"The state and people of Ukraine have the right to staunchly demand the restoration of their territorial integrity and respect for their sovereignty," Ratas asserted, noting that Estonia will continue to support Ukraine however possible and adding that ensuring peace and people's security is a top priority.
"Unfortunately, hostilities in Eastern Ukraine have intensified instead of decreasing, and the humanitarian situation is still extremely dire," he said. "The world must not accept neither the events occurring in Ukraine nor the suffering of innocent people."
Ukraine has been Estonia's priority of development cooperation for almost two decades. Since 1998, Estonia has supported the development of Ukraine with €11 million euros, and as of last year, more than 40 projects were underway.
While in New York, Ratas also met with President of the Gambia Adama Barrow, and President of the Central African Republic Faustin-Archange Touadéra. During these meetings, Ratas confirmed that Estonia is willing to support the development of both the Gambia and the Central African Republic by sharing its e-governing experiences.
The prime minister also introduced Estonia's goals for applying for the non-permanent membership of the United Nations Security Council for 2020-2021.
Editor: Aili Vahtla