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At the meeting of the Chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the Riigikogu Marko Mihkelson and the Chairman of the European Union Affairs Committee of the Riigikogu Kalle Palling with the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs of the United Kingdom Philip Hammond, the future of the European Union, the security situation in connection with the Russian-Ukrainian conflict and the fight against the extremist ISIL were discussed.

In Mihkelson’s opinion the present international security situation highlights the need to take decisive steps towards strengthening the political and economic unity of the EU. “UK’s wish to strengthen the European Union by its term of Presidency in 2017 through reforming it makes it possible to review the Union’s existing policy and legislation in order to give a new impulse for the cooperation of states to enhance competitiveness,” Mihkelson said. He acknowledged the fruitful cooperation of the two countries both in the framework of the EU and through bilateral relations.

Hammond gave an overview of the UK’s positions on the future of the EU. The British government is on the one hand interested in strengthening the unity and increasing the competitiveness of the European Union, enhancing the internal market, development of trade policy, but also in a looser union of member states and partial return of competences. According to the Foreign Secretary, the UK intends to submit its package of proposals by the second half of 2016. This proposal is also connected with the referendum on the EU that is planned to be held in the UK in 2017.

Palling stressed the importance of the coming UK Presidency of the EU and its impact on the cooperation between the states within the framework of the Union. “Estonia supports a unified, strong and competitive EU, with the UK as a member,” Palling said.

At the meeting, concern was expressed over Russia’s continuing activities to destabilise situation in Ukraine. “The hope of achieving a peaceful solution to the conflict is fragile, which shows Russia’s wish to exert pressure on the authorities of Ukraine,” Mihkelson said. It was stressed at the meeting that in order to influence the situation, the EU should impose additional measures against Russia, and these measures should have a long-lasting impact on Russia. It is necessary to ensure the unity of the EU in imposing the sanctions.

It was also noted at the meeting that to restrict the activities of ISIL, it is especially necessary to improve the cooperation of the EU in restricting the movement of foreign fighters, and also prevent the spreading of extremist ideas.

Photos of the meeting: http://fotoalbum.riigikogu.ee/v/Komisjonid/XII+Riigikogu/Uhisistungid/23022015/

Riigikogu Press Service

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