Formin: United, strong EU is in Estonia's vital interest

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Photo: Erik Prozes

It is in the vital interest of Estonia that the European Union was strong and united, Estonian Foreign Minister Marina Kaljurand said in her foreign policy speech in parliament on Thursday.

«Never before has the EU been as coherent and verging on disintegration at the same time. There are those who wish to see the European Union weak and fragmented. We must not let this happen, no matter whether political tools, energy or information war are used for it. A united and strong European Union, a united and strong trans-Atlantic union and successful cooperation with all like-minded countries is in the interest of the security of all of us. Only in such way can we exit the crisis stronger,» Kaljurand said.

She said that from the point of view of preserving Europe's unity and future it's very important to avoid processes disintegrating the European Union.

«For Estonia exit of Britain from the European Union would be a sad event. The referendum is an internal matter of the United Kingdom and this matter is up to the people of that country to decide. But Estonia definitely doesn't want one of its most important partners in security policy to leave the European Union,» Kaljurand said. The minister said she believes that an agreement with the UK will be reached, but more effort still is needed for it.

When it comes to Greece and the eurozone, Estonia wants Greece to function in the monetary union successfully in the future. «For Estonia it's important that no crisis was solved at the cost of the unity of the European Union. A united and strong European Union is the vital interest of Estonia,» the minister said.  

The biggest challenge for the unity of the EU in the context of the migration crisis is strengthening of joint border defense and preserving the Schengen treaty, the Estonian minister said.

«I understand the wish of member states to temporarily close their borders to get migration under control. But this can only be a temporary solution if we do not want the Schengen system to collapse. The Schengen treaty is one of the symbols of the EU, symbolizing free movement between 26 European Union member states. Yet the Schengen treaty is a lot more that that, being of indispensable practical value. Restoration of internal borders would be a blow to the reputation of Europe and have a negative effect on the movement of people and goods alike. If necessary, we must be ready to amend the Schengen treaty if this is the price of free sand safe movement,» the minister said.  

Kaljurand described the refugee crisis as one of the most serious individual challenges that the EU has ever had to solve. «It's clear that in the coming few years member states must make very difficult decisions very quickly. So far we've been able to cope with Europe's problems only thanks to our ability to maintain the unity of Europe on all the most important issues. This is the most important goal for our EU policy,» Kaljurand said.

The minister said that Estonia's broader security depends to a very large extent on our ability to act as a credible partner on the international arena. «We wish to increase our contribution to handling security problems that have global implications. This year, we will continue to work towards the goal of Estonia becoming a non-permanent member of the Security Council for the period 2020-2021,» she said.