The Minister of Foreign Affairs Urmas Paet replied to the interpellation concerning the visa waiver program of the United States of America (No 38), submitted by Members of the Riigikogu Kalle Laanet, Vladimir Velman, Nelli Privalova, Ain Seppik, Lembit Kaljuvee, Lauri Laasi, Evelyn Sepp, Aadu Must, Jaak Aab, Aivar Riisalu, Marika Tuus, Heimar Lenk, Tiit Kuusmik, Valeri Korb, Helle Kalda, Toomas Varek, Inara Luigas, Jaan Kundla and Olga Sõtnik on 18 February. Interpellators express their concern regarding the proposed visa waiver program of the USA which is going to impose stricter security requirements for Estonia, Czech Republic and Greece than those applied to the remaining states of the European Union. The interpellators wished to know the reason why the Government accepted that and why Estonia was not cooperating with the European Union in regard of visa waiver.
Paet explained that Estonia had been making efforts to achieve a visa waiver agreement with the United States of America already for a long time. As we know, at present we are one of the twelve member states of the European Union who do not have visa waiver agreements with the United States of America. “Together with other member states of the European Union we are moving towards mutual visa waiver between the whole European Union and the USA,” Paet asserted. This means a situation in which all member states of the European Union are treated on an equal basis. “Estonia has no interest or intention to achieve visa waiver status on better or worse conditions than other member states of the European Union. All new member states of the European Union who accede to the visa waiver program are going to accede on the same conditions, and the same conditions are going to apply to those who already have visa waiver agreements with the United States,” the Foreign Minister said. This derives from the legislative amendment passed by the USA Congress in 2007 which, among other things, opens the possibility for new states to accede to the visa waiver program, at the same time altering the conditions of the whole program, for everybody. “So, finally there will be no essential differences between member states of the European Union,” Paet emphasised.
During the open microphone, Mark Soosaar took the floor.
The verbatim record of the sitting (in Estonian) is available at: http://www.riigikogu.ee/?op=steno
The Riigikogu Press Service
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