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Today and tomorrow the Chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the Riigikogu, the Parliament of Estonia Hannes Hanso will participate in the meeting of the chairmen of the foreign affairs committees of the parliaments of the Nordic Countries and Baltic States, which this time will be held on Spitsbergen Island in the Svalbard Archipelago that is administered by Norway, and where the situation in Russia and Ukraine, the issues connected with the Arctic and the problem of radicalised foreign fighters will be discussed.

It is the first visit abroad of the Chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the new Riigikogu, where he will meet with his colleagues from Latvia, Lithuania, Denmark, Finland, Norway, Sweden and Iceland.

The participants of the meeting will speak about the situation in Russia and Ukraine. “Preserving the unity of Europe in regard to Russia is of fundamental importance,” Hanso said. “Ukraine, like all other sovereign countries, has the right to territorial integrity, and violation of this right cannot go unsanctioned.”

Hanso emphasised that the people of Ukraine have an unalienable right to make their choices by themselves, and nobody has the right to exert pressure on that country in making these choices. “If Ukraine wishes to continue on the path of European integration and carry out the reforms necessary for that, it is clear that we will support them in this,” Hanso said.

Various issues connected with the Arctic, from the use of natural resources to political and economic development, will also be discussed at the meeting.

Hanso said that the Arctic may become the next geopolitical arena of the world where the strategic interests of different countries clash. “Unfortunately we can see today more and more signs that the military presence of Russia is being actively increased in the Arctic region. This tendency cannot be considered acceptable in any way. I believe this position is shared by all Baltic and Nordic colleagues,” Hanso said.

The problem of foreign fighters coming from the Nordic Countries and the Baltic States will be discussed as a separate issue. “This is a problem that raises several legislative issues which we have to solve also in Estonia,” the Chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee said.

According to the latest report of the UN, the number of people who have left their homeland to join the fighters of Al-Qaida, Islamic State and other groupings has increased to over 25,000, and there are also people from this region among them.

The meetings of the chairmen of the foreign affairs committees of the Nordic Countries and Baltic States are held regularly twice a year. The last meeting took place last autumn in Trakai, Lithuania. This time Norway is in the presiding country and invited the guests to Svalbard in the Arctic Ocean.

Riigikogu Press Service
Epp-Mare Kukemelk
Phone: +372 631 6356; +372 51 53  903