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Foreign policy debate as a matter of significant national importance was held in the Riigikogu plenary assembly today. The Minister of Foreign Affairs Margus Tsahkna and the Chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee Marko Mihkelson made their annual speeches.

In his speech, the Minister of Foreign Affairs Margus Tsahkna focused for a large part on the war in Ukraine. He said that Ukrainians had been determined in their resistance to the aggressor and we had been determined in our support to Ukrainians, but the aggression had not ended. “Russian forces remain on Ukrainian territory, sowing dread and killing people. Putin has not given up on his goals and hopes to reach his aims by wearing out Ukrainians and their supporters. This must not happen, too much is at stake. To prevent this, our own goal must be certain and clear, we must know what we mean by victory because we can afford nothing else,” he emphasised.

According to Tsahkna, the European Union and NATO are and must remain the foundations of European security because both organisations have been established to preserve and uphold the interests of the free world – democracy, rule of law, the rights of people and the way of life based on freedom. “Ukraine must become a member of NATO and the European Union; it is a guarantee that makes the aggressor doubt the effectiveness of its militant and destructive objectives. It gives confidence to Ukrainians to move forward on their chosen path, it gives confidence to us that the aggressive and imperialist ideas sprouting somewhere do not become objectives and are kept under control,” the Minister of Foreign Affairs added.

In his speech, the minister also pointed out the massive terror attack of Ḩamās against Israel and the principles of the free world. He said that Israel had the right to defend itself within international law. “We must move towards a solution that would end the deteriorating humanitarian crisis and conclude with two states that can exist side by side,” he said.

In conclusion, the Minister of Foreign Affairs said that the greatest lesson we had learnt from our history was how the security and prosperity of a small state and nation could actually come into being, how it became established and grew, as well as the importance of a free – inclusive, caring, forward-looking, sound – society on that path. According to Tsahkna, we have felt this price of freedom on our skin and in our bones all too painfully. “Therefore, we cannot just stand by and watch as forests burn. We care about our planet and the environment. We do not wish for any people to be subjected to destruction, fear, hunger, poverty, and suffering. This is why we are taking steps and showing an example. Swimming against the tide, if necessary,” he said.

In his speech, the Chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee Marko Mihkelson also focused on the war in Ukraine but not only on that. According to Chairman, Russia is not fighting only for the destruction of Ukraine but the changing of all the principles, standards, and lines of influence that have shaped the whole Western world. “This has remained obscure for many because Ukraine, events in Middle East, developments in Sahel, and the potential rise of tensions in Eastern Asia are still seen as separate affairs,” he said.

Mihkelson pointed out in his speech that the constantly and publicly expressed fears about escalating the current wars ourselves were just grist to the mill of the enemies of the West. “The recent warnings reverberating around Europe about Russia’s possible attack against NATO hint, on the one hand, to a deficient defence readiness and the need for new defence investments but, on the other hand, these in itself create the perception that there is nothing the West can do to avoid this,” he said. According to Chairman, for Estonia, the spreading of this narrative and it becoming the received idea is extremely dangerous because this might make the allies used to the idea that submitting to Russia’s ultimatums just might keep their world safe. “Moscow receives the impression that the West is reluctant to fight for its interests. We have fuelled this impression together by withdrawing from Afghanistan, Sahel, and now maybe also from the Middle East, but also by providing Ukraine military aid too slowly and acting too cautiously,” Mihkelson emphasised.

According to Mihkelson, the fear to escalate the war with Russia sadly gives the opposite effect. “This only makes Russia even more confident and creates a fantasy that it could win the war against the West without spilling too much blood,” he added. The Chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee also said that, for Estonia, the most dangerous scenario was the spreading political doubts and strategic indecisiveness among our allies. “This is why it makes complete sense that the main attention of our foreign policy in the near future must be directed into supporting Ukraine, keeping the unity in the allied space that is vital for us, as well as contributing to shaping the broader victory strategy of the West, and putting this to practice,” he added.

In conclusion Mihkelson said that, in its activities, the Foreign Affairs Committee had mostly concentrated on taking political and diplomatic steps to bring about Ukraine’s victory, on keeping the unity of our allied space, and on defining the key international topics in light of Estonia’s interests.

During the debate, Henn Põlluaas from the Estonian Conservative People’s Party Parliamentary Group, Andrei Korobeinik from the Estonian Centre Party Group, Urmas Reinsalu from Isamaa Parliamentary Group, Raimond Kaljulaid from the Social Democratic Party Group, Maria Jufereva-Skuratovski from the Estonian Reform Party Group, Kalev Stoicescu from Estonia 200 Parliamentary Group and Member of the Riigikogu Ester Karuse took the floor.

The Riigikogu appointed Vadim Belobrovtsev as a new member of the Estonian Public Broadcasting Council

At today’s sitting, the Riigikogu passed the Resolution of the Riigikogu “Appointment of a Member of the Estonian Public Broadcasting Council from among the Members of the Riigikogu” (372 OE), submitted by the Cultural Affairs Committee. Member of the Estonian Public Broadcasting Council Andre Hanimägi was removed because he had left the Estonian Centre Party Parliamentary Group. Under the Resolution, Member of the Riigikogu Vadim Belobrovtsev from the Centre Party Group was appointed as a new member of the Council.

The Estonian Public Broadcasting Council consists of members of the Riigikogu and acknowledged experts in the field of activity of the Public Broadcasting. On the proposal of the Cultural Affairs Committee, the Riigikogu appoints one representative from each parliamentary group of the Riigikogu until the date of termination of the authority of the composition of the Riigikogu, and four acknowledged experts in the field of activity of the Public Broadcasting whose authority continues for five years.

The membership of the Estonian Public Broadcasting Council includes Members of the Riigikogu Priit Sibul, Marek Reinaas, Valdo Randpere, Varro Vooglaid, Raimond Kaljulaid and the new member Vadim Belobrovtsev as well as experts in the field Rein Veidemann, Peeter Espak, Viktor Trasberg and Sulev Valner.

39 members of the Riigikogu were in favour of passing the Resolution.

Verbatim record of the sitting (in Estonian)

Photos (Author: Erik Peinar / Chancellery of the Riigikogu)

The video recording of the sitting will be available to watch later on the Riigikogu YouTube channel.

Riigikogu Press Service
Eleen Lindmaa
+372 631 6456, +372 5551 4433
[email protected]
Questions: [email protected]