Minister of Foreign Affairs Sven Mikser (SDE) on Monday attended a meeting of the EU Foreign Affairs Council in Luxembourg, which was followed by a meeting with EU foreign ministers' counterparts from the Eastern Partnership countries.
At the Foreign Affairs Council meeting, the EU foreign ministers discussed the eternal aspects of migration, the current situation in Libya and the Central African Republic, as well as recent developments in Venezuela, according to a ministry press release.
"We continue to support the implementation of migration policy, and we are prepared to move forward with the development of new initiatives," Mikser said. "We must ensure that the new initiatives are not one-off solutions, but sustainable and long-term measures."
According to the Estonian minister, it is also important to continue cooperation with third countries, especially when dealing with the root causes of migration and fighting against people-smugglers and human traffickers.
UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi and Director General of the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) António Vitorino also took part in the discussion.
The council also discussed the situation in Libya and stressed the pressing need for elections, and the ministers contributed to preparations for the upcoming high-level meeting on Libya to take place in Palermo in November as well.
Another focus of the meeting was on developments in the Central African Republic. The council discussed how to improve the security and humanitarian situation there as well as support the democratically elected government. The council adopted conclusions on the Central African Republic, with the main objective being to establish a civil-military interoperability pillar within the EU Military Training Mission in the Central African Republic (EUTM RCA).
On the subject of Venezuela, the ministers discussed how to help alleviate the migration crisis in Venezuela's neighbouring countries in South America.
Importance of Eastern Partnership reaffirmed
Following the Foreign Affairs Council meeting, Mikser attended a meeting between EU foreign ministers and their counterparts from the Eastern Partnership (EaP) countries at which the importance of the EaP was reaffirmed.
The foreign ministers took stock of the progress already made and the current state of reforms in the six partnership countries — Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, the Republic of Moldova and Ukraine.
"The Eastern Partnership continues to be one of Estonia's priorities, and we welcome the partnership countries' progress in implementing reforms," Mikser said. "We must, of course, take into account that all partnership countries are unique and have different ambitions when it comes to integration with the EU. We need to have an individual approach to every partner country."
Elections are taking place in a number of EaP countries next year, and the EU ministers would like to see democratic, fair and transparent elections, he said. "And we hope that new governments will continue on the path of reforms," he added.
The Estonian minister named judicial reform, the fight against corruption and a greater involvement of civil society as key elements.
Mikser also pointed out the importance of strategic communication in EaP countries and the need to increase media literacy, especially in areas where false information about the EU is widely spread. Estonia will continue bilateral development cooperation with Georgia, Ukraine and the Republic of Moldova through the Estonian Center of Eastern Partnership (ECEAP) to support the region's journalists.
On the subject of the EaP's upcoming tenth anniversary, Mikser said that it will provide an opportunity for the EU to reaffirm its commitment and highlight the success stories of the EaP.
Cooperation between the EU and the EaP countries is based on the so-called 20 Deliverables for 2020, which were adopted at the Eastern Partnership Summit that took place during the Estonian presidency of the Council of the EU in November 2017. The deliverables are divided into the following priority areas: economic development and market opportunities; strengthening institutions and good governance; connectivity, energy efficiency, environment and climate change; as well as mobility and people-to-people contacts.
Editor: Aili Vahtla