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Prime minister aims for greater European-Arab cooperation

Prime Minister Jüri Ratas (Centre)
Prime Minister Jüri Ratas (Centre) Source: Priit Mürk/ERR

Prime Minister Jüri Ratas (Centre) was in Egypt on Monday, where he spoke of the need to increase European-Arab partnerships.

Speaking at the inagural EU and League of Arab States summit in the resort city of Sharm El Sheikh, Mr Ratas said the moves were necessary to increase stability in both regions, as well as improve the well-being of their inhabitants.

"Regional partnership is mutually beneficial and helps advance economic, social and technological development, including in the field of IT," Mr Ratas said.

"We have already contributed to the development of information society and e-services in Arab countries, such as Tunisia, Oman and Palestine,'' the Estonian premier continued, as quoted by spokespersons, referencing Estonia's IT and e-state experiences.

''Last week, the biggest Lebanese delegation to date visited Estonia to learn from our experience in the field of e-governance," he went on, before noting that current cooperation could only be built upon.

"I hope that at the next summit in three years we can already see outcomes and a positive impact also on entrepreneurship," Mr Ratas said.

Greater cooperation with UN and African Union

Those heads of state and heads of government present at the summit also adopted a joint statement highlighting the need to strengthen the partnership between the EU and the League of Arab States, with a focus on tackling global challenges, including through increased cooperation between the two blocs and the UN and African Union.

The leaders also expressed their desire to jointly combat climate change, human trafficking and the proliferation of arms, terrorism, radicalisation, extremism, illegal migration and other activities causing instability, it is reported.

They also reaffirmed the importance of strengthening economic cooperation between the two blocs, establishing a strong partnership based on investment and sustainable development, and developing a positive cooperation agenda in particular in the fields of trade, energy, including energy security, science, research, technology, tourism, fisheries, agriculture and other mutually beneficial areas. In all cases the express aim was to create wealth, increase growth rates and reduce unemployment.

The leaders also reiterated the importance of reaching political solutions to the regional crises, in accordance with international law, including humanitarian law, in achieving the peace and prosperity that the peoples of the region need and deserve.

Jüri Ratas bilaterally met with several arab counterparts in addition to the main summit. These indluded Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, Emir of Kuwait Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah, and President smaïl Omar Guelleh of Djibouti.

Topics discussed reportedly included building up relations between th countries, Estonia's e-governance experience and digital society, and its running for a non-permanent UN Security Council seat for 2020-2021.

Editor: Andrew Whyte

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