Mr. Hannes Hanso, a member of the Advisory Committee of the President of the Republic of Estonia, a Member of Estonian Parliament and the Chairman of the National Defence Committee, started his visit to the Southern African region on 21st January 2019, during which Republic of South Africa, the Kingdom of Lesotho, the Kingdom of Eswatini and Mozambique are visited. The purpose of the visit is to introduce Estonia’s candidature to the UN Security Council elected membership for 2020-2021 and to enhance bilateral relations.
On 22nd and 23rd January, the delegation, including Mr Hannes Hanso, Mr Margus Kolga, Ambassador-at-Large for the United Nations issues and Kaisa Mitt-Alvarez, diplomat of the Estonian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, met in Pretoria with Ms Linda Shongwe, Chief Director of Central, Eastern Europe, Nordic and Baltic Countries at the Department of International Relations and Cooperation of South Africa, and colleagues from the Department of Telecommunications and Postal Services. The delegation also met Ambassador of Sweden in South Africa, Ms. Cecilia Julin and Head of Delegation of the European Union, Mr. Marcus Cornaro.
Estonia’s candidature to the UN Security Council was in the focus of the meeting at the department of International Relations and Cooperation of South Africa. It was noted that Estonian campaign messages, objectives and readiness to serve at the UN Security Council are a clear sign of Estonia’s strong commitment. Questions concerning Africa are very frequently at the focus of UN Security Council work, due to which it is important for African countries that the UN Security Council members are familiar with the African context. More needs to be done concerning conflict prevention and more concrete measures must be taken. There is room for improvement with reference to the Council’s current approach to conflict.
Hannes Hanso noted that Estonians have participated in several peacekeeping operations and have given their strong contribution to solving conflicts. Estonia aims to continue its work. At present, Estonia takes part in the Barkhane mission alongside with the French, covering five African countries - Mali, Niger, Chad, Burkina Faso and Mauritania.
Possibilities for enhancing bilateral cooperation in the field of ICT and e-governance were discussed both at the Department of International Relations and Cooperation and at the Department of Telecommunications and Postal Services. Estonia has signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the African Union in order to further develop this particular field of cooperation. Estonian companies and experts already have projects of cooperation in several African countries, such as Namibia, Botswana, Tunisia, Zimbabwe.
The growing interest for mutual cooperation could become a further stepping stone also for enhancing bilateral relations with South Africa. Mr. Hanso recommended the interested parties to approach the Estonia’s e-Governance Academy, which has significant experience in international cooperation in ICT.