Today, a seminar on Asia was held in the Conference Hall of the Riigikogu (Parliament of Estonia) on the initiative of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the Riigikogu. The main topic of the seminar was the importance of Asia for Estonia, considering the increasing impact of the Asian region in the economic, trade as well as geopolitical perspective.
In his opening address, Chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the Riigikogu Enn Eesmaa highlighted the idea of the Asian Centre at the University of Tartu and the proposal of the Foreign Affairs Committee to create an Asian strategy until 2035 for Estonia.
“Estonia needs a strategy that would take into account the interests of as many social groups as possible,” he said. “We need to have clearer principles for long-term communication with the Asian countries in education, research, economy, culture and in many other fields. The Foreign Affairs Committee will continue its work through parliamentary hearings, seeking new opportunities and searching for fresh solutions,” Eesmaa said.
Deputy Chairman of the Committee Marko Mihkelson pointed out that the Foreign Affairs Committee had been dealing with Asia as an important region in several compositions of the Riigikogu. He recalled the report “The Opportunities and Interests of Estonia in Asia until 2025”, which had been prepared in 2012 on the basis of the hearings in the Committee. “Eight years ago we were not able to foresee how fast the impact of Asia in the context of global economy, politics and security would enter our daily life. The influence of China and other Asian countries in the coming years and decades may be much more defining that we can estimate today,” he said.
Rector of the Estonian Business School (EBS) and former Head of Research of the Foresight Centre Meelis Kitsing spoke about the meaning of the scenarios on global lines of power to the relations between the European Union and Asia. Using the global lines of power scenarios prepared by the Foresight Centre, Kitsing described four alternatives for Europe until 2035. In his opinion, the key factors of the scenarios are the cooperation of the EU member states and their ability to develop an infrastructure that would have an increasing role of a geopolitical instrument.
Member of Asia Update Organising Team Liisi Karindi presented a summary of Estonia’s risks and opportunities within the context of emerging Asia. Karindi drew attention to the fact that we could not ignore the growing importance of Asia in global economy and in politics, education, security and other spheres. She emphasised that, for its sustainable and successful development in the context of the growing importance of Asia, Estonia needed to expand its knowledge and formulate its ambitions.
Secretary General of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Rainer Saks discussed the approach of gathering the topics that are important for society into a uniform Asian strategy. According to him, it is necessary to have a clear understanding of how to define the region we term as Asia in the strategy. Saks also said that several different social groups, including the economic and academic community, must definitely be involved in the public debate on the Asian strategy.
Members of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the Riigikogu and representatives of the University of Tartu, the Estonian Foreign Policy Institute, the Government Office, Tallinn University, Enterprise Estonia, Tallinn University of Technology and ministries participated in the seminar.
Photos of the seminar (Erik Peinar, Riigikogu)
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