The Irish Tánaiste (deputy head of government) Simon Coveney (Fine Gael) was in Tallinn on Wednesday, where he met with Minister for Foreign Affairs Sven Mikser (SDE), effectively Mr. Coveney's counterpart since the latter is also Irish Minister for Foreign Affairs. The visit was the first of its kind by an Irish foreign minister, and the two discussed issues such as Estonia's support for for finding an effective solution to the Irish border question after Brexit.
In the first part of the meeting, the foreign ministers discussed the strong and cordial relations between the two EU nations.
"Like Estonia, Ireland is a country with significant digital competence. In addition to close cultural ties, there are many opportunities for cooperation in the fields of economy, energy and technology," Mr. Mikser said.
However the central issue of discussion was the UK's impending withdrawal from the EU after the referendum of June 2016 voting in favour of the move, albeit by a small margin, led to the government of that country invoking Article 50 of the Treaty of the European Union.
Irish border issue post-Brexit
The talks included the implementation of a physical border between the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland, which is under UK sovereignty.
Foreign Minister Mikser also emphasised the importance of maintaining the unity of EU member states both at the meeting of heads of state in Salzburg, Austria on 20 September as well as in the longer term.
"Close future relations with the UK after Brexit are important for both our two countries and the EU as a whole. To achieve that, it should be guaranteed that no physical border is established on the island of Ireland in March 2019 [the UK is due to formally leave the EU on 29 March 2019 at 123.00 UTC-ed.] and that a suitable technical solution is found," Mr Mikser stressed.
The two foreign ministers also discussed transatlantic relations, the situation in the Middle East, and both countries' bid for non-permanent membership of the UN Security Council (Ireland is standing for election for the 2021-2022 term).
Irish President Mr. Michael D. Higgins visited Latvia and Lithuania in June this year, but due to a clash of diary commitments with Estonian President Kersti Kaljulaid was unable to come to Estonia. Estonian Prime Minister Jüri Ratas visited Dublin in February this year and met with Mr. Higgins as well as the Taoiseach (Prime Minister) Leo Varadkar.
Editor: Andrew Whyte