The Riigikogu deliberated the issue of Estonia?s accession to the EU
The deliberation of the matter of significant national importance ? Estonia?s Accession to the European Union? was resumed in the Riigikogu. Chairman of the European Affairs Committee Rein Lang and Chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee Marko Mihkelson made the reports.
Rein Lang introduced the report ?On the Influences of the Joining the European Union?, compiled by the representatives of all factions of the Riigikogu. He emphasized that the report did not aim at compiling a new bulky and incomprehensible document. ?We aimed at summing up as briefly as possible the main factors, which will operate in case Estonia joins the European Union. We hope that the report presented today is understandable summary of the information flood, based on which the Estonian Government made a proposal to the Riigikogu to approve accession to the European Union, and to which the Riigikogu is asking the Estonian people, the supreme power of state, to give their assessment on September 14th?, said Rein Lang.
He also noted that the report did not aim at observing the political-philosophical essence of the EU. ?Regretfully, the pre-referendum debate has focused too much on details, single aspects of the accession and thereby estimating definite economic gain or loss?, he said. ?This can also be called ?morsel discussion? in a way?. Some are getting extra morsels, some are deprived of some morsels. Such perceptions have overshadowed the basic principles of the European Union. The fundamental values, which are riveted in the European Union, are not spoken enough of in clear Estonian language. In other words, what is the meaning of the whole European Union?
In his report the Chairman of the European Affairs Committee also touched upon the issue of defending the interests of Estonia in the EU. He refuted the statements that we are unable to defend our interests in the EU, because we are a small country and no large country will take us into account. ?Defending our interests depends upon us alone and not a single reason have been found to assume that Estonia lacks necessary know-how?, he stated.
In the end of his speech Mr. Lang touched on the issue of the draft of the Constitutional Treaty of the European Convent. He admitted that although Estonia is mostly satisfied with the Future Convent, it would be in our interests to make some changes to the draft. ?Since the Intergovernmental Conference in terms of the Treaty will end during 2004, as planned, the Treaty shall enter into force after all Member States (including Estonia) have ratified it according to their legislation as the treaty between the states. Thus, the right and responsibility as an equal Member State of participation in drawing up of the new Treaty of the European Union is to be considered one of the major accession factors.
In his report Marko Mihkelson introduced the historical background of the accession process and stated that the basis of the Estonia?s foreign policy consensus is the extensive understanding of our main strategic choice ? to defend preserving Estonia as a democratic and free society with increase in the citizen?s wellfare. ?This strategic line is the main goal of the European Union existence as well.
Therefore, a decision made years ago is naturally in harmony with our strategic goals. The accession to the European Union strengthens our positions in achieving our main goals?, he said.
The Chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee overturned the statements of those against the accession on Estonia loosing its independence and decision-making ability. According to the Chairman, Estonia?s accession to the EU will greatly increase Estonia? s foreign policy capability as a whole. ?Estonia?s influence will increase in participating in the decision-making process as a full member of the European Union and in global communication. Estonia will no longer be considered a small transition country lacking the resources, but as one of the decision-makers on the European Union policies. A sure stability of development will be guaranteed by belonging to a free market system with 450 million citizens and a quarter of the world? s overall production.
Mr. Mihkelson pointed out most vital issues, which will directly affect Estonian foreign policy and position of Estonia as a foreign-political entity in the world. To summarise, he stated that security and wellfare of Estonia depend to a great extent on shaping of an effective multilateral system focusing on common values and interests. ?Europe, which have been recovering its welfare for half a century behind America?s back, have all of a sudden realised the existence of security risks. New treats have forced European leaders to think of defending the security and wellfare of the continent in the future. Therefore, it is of importance to us that Europe and America are able to establish effectively working partnership in these new conditions. Several European leaders believe that it is Estonia and other states of the so-called new wave, which are able to make a considerable contribution to securing the Euro-Atlantic relations.
Enn Eesmaa, Janno Reiljan, Toomas Hendrik Ilves, Peeter Tulviste and Liina Tõnisson as other compilers of the report introduced different chapters and viewpoints expressed in them.
Representatives of the factions supported standpoints presented in the report as well as accession to the EU in a broader sense. Ivari Padar (Mõõdukad Faction), Tunne Kelam (Isamaaliit ? Pro Patria Faction), Janno Reiljan (Estonian People?s Union Faction), Siim Kallas (Estonian Reform Party Faction), Tiit MatsulevitÃ° (Union for the Republic-Res Publica Faction), Toomas Varek (Estonian Centre Party Faction) took the floor.
In the course of negotiations 11 Members of the Riigikogu took the floor.