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President of the Riigikogu (Parliament of Estonia) Jüri Ratas and Head of the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs of the Swiss Confederation Ignazio Cassis spoke of bilateral cooperation in digital developing of public services and establishing of direct contacts in the promotion of business and tourism at their meeting today.

“Estonia and Switzerland are close partners, and it is important to maintain our close connections and to deepen cooperation in economy, culture and tourism,” the President of the Riigikogu said.  

Ratas and Cassis admitted that the direct flights between Tallinn and Zürich, which had started last month, contributed to the development of bilateral relations. “It provides our people with a much-needed connection, and it will help both tourism and business to expand their market,” Ratas said. He added that good flight connection was also important to the more than a thousand Estonians living and working in Switzerland who have close relations with Estonia.

At the meeting, Ratas recalled his recent visit to Switzerland that had been a part of the celebrations of 100 years of diplomatic relations between the two countries. Both at the visit and at today’s meeting, the digital development of public services was discussed. “Estonia and Switzerland seem to have many promising beginnings of cooperation in this field,” Ratas said, and expressed hope that both the governments and the start-up companies in both countries could find ways to do more together.

The Swiss Minister of Foreign Affairs saw the possibility to learn from Estonia’s experience in digitalisation of data and providing the e-services of digital governance as the next step in bilateral relations. The President of the Riigikogu gave his guest an overview of the public digital services of Estonia and also spoke of e-elections and the attitudes of people in using the digital services. The need to ensure cyber security and protection of personal data were discussed as well. Chairman of the Estonia-Switzerland Parliamentary Friendship Group Anti Poolamets, who participated in the meeting, highlighted the cyber security aspects of digitalisation and the need to add it to school curriculum as an elective course.

Experiences of overcoming the COVID-19 pandemic were shared, and the organisation of the daily work of the governments and parliaments and the holding of referendums was compared in the two countries.

Chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the Riigikogu Marko Mihkelson and Deputy Chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee Mihhail Lotman also met with the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Switzerland. They discussed the international policy work of parliaments, Estonia’s participation in international peacekeeping missions and Estonia’s Presidency in the UN Security Council. Mihkelson underlined the importance of rules-based world order in international relations and close cooperation of democratic countries in defending it.

Photos of the meeting (Erik Peinar, Riigikogu)

Riigikogu Press Service
Epp-Mare Kukemelk
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