Today, the President of the European Parliament (EP) Jerzy Buzek who is on a visit in Estonia made a statement before the Riigikogu. In his speech, he noted that we are situated in a region which has been sorely bruised by history but today Estonia is an invaluable member of the European Union and NATO. “You are the first of the Baltic States to join the Eurozone and are one of the most integrated nations in Europe. You are a model for others – not only for democracy but in becoming a successful high tech economy and the first country in the world to introduce e-voting,” Buzek recognised Estonia’s achievements.
The EP President stressed that the European Union (EU) is at a crossroads and what we are seeing is a crisis of enormous sovereign and private debt. A crisis caused, in the most part, by poor economic governance. He stated that Europe’s crisis is not just a financial one but also a crisis of trust. Buzek admitted that many of our citizens feel that the EU is not working and they think that the EU is part of the problem and not part of the solution. The President of the European Parliament thought that politicians need to do a better job at explaining our current crisis; they need to show how we are making the European Union more efficient, more capable of solving problems. He noted that perhaps the example of Estonia should be shown more often to Europe. “Most importantly, we need to reinforce the value of European solidarity,” Buzek said, adding that, like Poland, Estonia understands the power of solidarity better than most. “Your commitment to this value and core European values such as freedom and democracy led to one of the most remarkable uprisings history has witnessed,” he said.
He went on to say that solidarity alone is not enough – you need discipline and responsibility to succeed. In Buzek’s words, Estonians have shouldered the economic crisis with courage, pride and determination. He recognised the work of the Estonian Government in cutting the budget and the achievements which had been made thanks to responsible governance. “Your success is a breath of fresh air. Because it shows not only the importance of responsibility and austerity, but it also gives heart to the rest of Europe. And the world,” Buzek believed.
In his speech, the President of the European Parliament also touched upon the importance of the euro, considering the euro a strong and stable currency. Buzek stressed that the euro is an essential factor in ensuring our security.
When speaking about regional cooperation, Buzek emphasised the need to create a comprehensive relationship with Russia, based on mutual trust, respect and common values. He also mentioned the activities of Estonia, Lithuania and Latvia for boosting their cooperation in many sectors – including transport, innovation and energy. He also believed that the EU’s Strategy for the Baltic Sea Region can become a regional cooperation model for the whole EU. Buzek added that securing energy supplies for the future may become the most important test of regional cooperation. He specified: “Our strategic aim should be to develop energy reserves so that when a country runs into difficulty we can survive any crisis. We cannot accept a situation where there are still isolated energy islands in the EU, as is the case of the Baltic States today.”
“As a people you have always been known for speaking your mind and doing the right thing even if it was hard. This has become your trade mark all over the world,” Buzek recognised Estonia, encouraging us to share our experiences in increasing transparency and openness in government, in promoting democracy and safeguarding human rights with countries from our Eastern neighbourhood.
Read the full version of the speech in the verbatim record of the sitting:
The Riigikogu Press Service