Foreign Minister: UN Security Council seat watershed event

Urmas Reinsalu (Isamaa).
Urmas Reinsalu (Isamaa). Source: ERR

The vote giving Estonia a non-permanent seat on the UN Security Council was a historic event and a great day for Estonian diplomacy, foreign minister Urmas Reinsalu (Isamaa) said Friday.

Reinsalu was in New York for the vote at UN headquarters which saw Estonia get 132 votes, three more than the 129 needed to get the seat, in the second round of voting, Friday evening, Estonian time. The first round had been inconclusive since, although Estonia got a majority of votes, the figure did not pass the two-thirds mark needed at the 193-member assembly.

Estonia now joins Tunisia, Vietnam, Niger and St. Vincent and Grenadines on the council. The term runs for two years, 2020-2021. There are ten non-permanent security council members, with five changing out each year.

Urmas Reinsalu echoed comments made by President Kersti Kaljulaid that membership of the UN Security Council would make Estonia significantly more prominent on the world map.

"The UN is the most important organization with a remit for peace and security, and having a seat at the table of the Security Council provides Estonia with a chance to contribute to resolving conflicts and ensuring peace across the world," Reinsalu said, according to a foreign ministry press release.

"Estonia advocates a world order based on rules and international law," he said. "By actively participating in the global organisation, Estonia is also ensuring its own security in the best way," Reinsalu added. 

Reinsalu also said that Estonia's priorities during its two-year UN Security Council tenure would include maintaining the world order based on international law, sharing its experiences related to the digital state and e-governance, climate and environmental issues, and making the functioning of the Security Council itself more efficient.

"E-governance and cybersecurity are definitely priorities for us as a digital nation, and they are directly linked to our security," he said.

The foreign minister highlighted the work of Estonian President Kersti Kaljulaid, campaign director Margus Kolga, and the Estonian Ambassador to the UN Sven Jürgenson, in carrying out the campaign.

"The dedication of our diplomats over several years is what ensured us this result," Reinsalu added.

Reinsalu added that many Estonian enterprises have already greatly benefited from the campaign for the seat at the Security Council.

"With this campaign, we have significantly raised Estonia's profile in the world. We will continue using the contacts we have made to bolster our reputation as a digital country and help our enterprises expand their activities, above all beyond the European Union," he said.

The Estonian state made the decision to apply for non-permanent membership at the UN Security Council back in 2005, with the campaign intensifying from 2017.

Estonia's term begins on January 1 2020. The five permanent members on the Security Council are China, France, Russia, the U.K and the U.S.

Editor: Andrew Whyte

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