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Välisminister Kristiina Ojulandi kõne konverentsil "Uus Euroopa 2020"

27. August 2004 - 15:21

Turku, 27.08.2004

"The New Role of Governments and the EU in Wider Europe"

Dear Mr Chairman,

Ladies and gentlemen!

First of all I would like to thank you for the invitation to speak here in Turku in front of such a distinguished audience!

In my today’s address I address I would like to focus on EU’s security and Neighbourhood policy.

The enlargement of the European Union was not a simple arithmetic sum of countries, people and square kilometres. It was much more than that, extending the models of stability and prosperity that have worked so well for Western Europe, further to the East. The enlargement created an added value of security and prosperity that the divided Europe was never able to provide.

It goes without saying, however, that security and prosperity in Europe are also dependent on the stability of the countries in the immediate vicinity of the European Union. Hence we have to continue working not merely towards further integration within the enlarged Union, but also towards more active cooperation between the Union and its neighbours. This means aiming at the potential membership of the remaining candidate countries. It also applies to actively developing relations and co-operation projects with the European Union’s Eastern and Southern next-door neighbours.

Bearing the latter endeavour in mind, the formulation of the European Neighbourhood Policy is of utmost importance. Helping to stabilise Ukraine, Belarus, and Moldova, as well the Western Balkans and the areas of Middle-East and Northern Africa, contributes to the security and prosperity of the whole region. It is most welcome that the countries of Southern Caucasus have also been encompassed in the European Neighbourhood Policy.

The total population of the neighbours of the enlarged European Union is nearly 400 million. Tighter cooperation with this vast area contributes to the competitiveness of the European Union as a whole. It is thus essential to create the means for economic integration, and the intensification of political and cultural interrelations, to promote cross-border and regional co-operation, and to prevent any possible development of economic and political conflicts between the European Union and its new neighbours.

Developing relations with new neighbours is the endeavour where the historical experience and the know-how of new members are particularly useful. Estonia already has substantial experience with carrying out bilateral development cooperation with several countries, Ukraine and Georgia in particular. We also expect to intensify our contacts with Moldova, and we are prepared to continue supporting these and other countries in their endeavours to carry out democratic and market economy reforms. Our contribution could be particularly valuable in the Information and Communication Technologies sector, as well as in the sphere of e-government. This is where Estonia itself has been rather successful in adopting new technologies and introducing reforms. We are happy to share this experience with other countries undergoing reform processes.

We also have to continue our efforts with regard to the development of Belarus, taking into account the political situation and the need to improve its democratic institutions, as well as the protection of human rights. I am looking forward to the moment when the people of Belarus join the community of democratic nations.

Ladies and gentlemen,

Of particular importance are the relations and cooperation between the European Union and Russia. The European Council on 12 December 2003 reaffirmed the Union’s determination to build a balanced and reciprocal partnership with Russia based on the rule of law, democracy, human rights and fundamental freedoms, and market economy.

However, the increasingly intensive cooperation between the European Union and Russia has not been as successful as expected, and more serious efforts are necessary. The first meeting of the Russia-European Union Permanent Partnership Council (PPC) held in Luxembourg at the Foreign Ministers level on 27 April gave hope that progress can be made. The signing of the protocol on extending the Partnership and Cooperation Agreement to new member states was clearly a positive development. Now efforts should be directed towards the unconditional ratification of the protocol. We hope that the European Union stands united in this question and defends the interests of its member states. We also hope that the results of the 21 May 2004 summit meeting create basis for the further development of the EU-Russian relations within the framework of the so-called Four Common Spaces.

It goes without saying that tighter economic relations between the European Union and Russia are useful and beneficial for both, although we have to bear in mind that common values and democratic standards should not be sacrificed for economic gains. Already now, more than 50 percent of Russia's trade is with the European Union. The enlargement has created entirely new opportunities for both the European Union and Russian businesses. But so far, the European Union has not been very successful in convincing Russia that the completion of its democratic and market economy reforms is a precondition for more successful economic integration with the European Union. A more concerted approach by the member states of the Union is needed. As an important development towards this goal, the European Union and Russia signed a bilateral protocol on 21 May on terms for Russia's entry into the World Trade Organisation.

Successful cooperation can and should also be promoted at the non-governmental level. One way to develop democracy and civil society in Russia is to intensify the cross-border cooperation locally. We hope that the new European Neighbourhood Instrument will increase the possibilities to more actively engage our Russian partners in mutually beneficial cross-border cooperation. The already existing structures and initiatives also provide a useful framework for such cooperation. Among these, one could particularly emphasize the European Union’s Northern Dimension and the Council of Baltic Sea States. There is also ample evidence that contacts between local authorities, business communities and non-governmental organisations can produce positive results.

Thank you for your attention!

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