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On Wednesday morning, the Foreign Affairs Committees of the Estonian and the Finnish parliament discussed in Tallinn many key issues of foreign policy, such as the upcoming Eastern Partnership Summit, relations with USA and Russia, and issues concerning the conflict areas in Middle East.

“No matter which sphere we discuss – economy, foreign policy, defence policy – it is clear that Estonia and Finland must cooperate closely to withstand the global turbulence and dynamics,” said the Chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the Riigikogu Marko Mihkelson.

One of the issues discussed by the Estonian and Finnish Committees was the Eastern Partnership and the Summit that will take place in Vilnius in two weeks’ time. “The events around the Eastern Partnership have a major impact on the development of our region. This is a serious test of the capability of the common European policy as well as of other countries who see their future linked more closely to the European values and standards,” Mihkelson said.

The meeting also touched on the topic of conflict areas in the Middle East, more specifically the situation in Syria, Egypt, Afghanistan and North Africa. “We see chaos reigning in these regions. The population boom has in many countries led to very serious social problems that in turn have given rise to instability or even military conflict,” Mihkelson said. The Chairman of the Finnish Foreign Affairs Committee Timo Soini agreed that the situation is worrying.

“We are witnessing a growth of extremism in the aftermath of the Arab Spring. Syria has now become the largest training camp for the jihadists,” Mihkelson added. Member of the Committee Imre Sooäär quoted British doctors in saying that the situation in Syria is worse than the mainstream media shows. ”We have learned from the Arab Spring that the communication must be destroyed, social media and media cut off. The worst thing is that no one gets the correct picture and small military units act without a higher chain of command,” Sooäär added.

The Finnish Committee admitted that Europe has a problem with war refugees and that it is not clear how it could be solved. According to Sooäär, the number of refugees could grow to over three million people and will not affect only Syris’s neighbours but all the EU countries. He proposed that all the information regarding the conflict in Syria should be kept very up-to-date and the related problems should be acknowledged.

Visiting Estonia on Wednesday were the Chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the Finnish Eduskunta Timo Soini and members of the Committee Mari Kiviniemi, Jörn Donner, Ilkka Kantola and Maria Lohela.

Photos of the meeting

The Riigikogu Press Service