The joint delegation of the National Defence Committee and the European Union Affairs Committee is on a three-day visit to Minsk, Belarus. The discussions will focus on security, as well as Estonia’s priorities and programme during our Presidency of the Council of the EU.
“We are bringing our Belarus colleagues up to date on the events related to the Eastern Partnership, and will exchange views on European security,” said Chairman of the National Defence Committee Hannes Hanso.
“The EU Eastern Partnership policy has been developed to ensure cooperation with our Eastern neighbours,” Hanso said. “We will all benefit from relations based on mutual trust. I believe that Belarus is a country that we need to keep the communication channels open with – also on the parliamentary level. An honest exchange of opinions will usher in a greater mutual understanding.”
Hanso has seen clear signs that Belarus is interested in good relations with the EU, although Russia is currently seen as the country’s strategic partner and ally.
Hanso says that Europe is worried about Russia’s aggressive behaviour, and the Zapad 2017 military exercise planned together with Belarus. However, it is a very positive sign that Belarus has promised to invite observers to the exercise. “This is a step in the right direction,” he said. “Another positive development is that the Estonians have not needed a visa to visit Minsk for a while now.”
The agendas of the meetings with the Deputy Chairman of the Council of the Republic of the National Assembly, and with members of the Standing Committee for Foreign Affairs and National Security will include relations with Russia and Ukraine, as well as with other Eastern partners. The delegation will also meet the members of the Belarus Estonia Friendship Group in Minsk, as well as several officials of the Ministry of Defence.
On Friday, Hanso will give a speech to the students of the International Relations Faculty of the Belarusian State University. On Saturday, the delegation will visit the Minsk Military Academy and meet with its students.
In addition to the Chairman of the National Defence Committee Hannes Hanso, the delegation includes members of the Committee Johannes Kert and Ants Laaneots, and Deputy Chairman of the European Union Affairs Committee Jaak Madison.
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