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At today's sitting, the Riigikogu heard ministers' replies to ten interpellations.

Prime Minister Taavi Rõivas replied to the interpellation concerning the challenges of Estonian foreign policy (No. 63), submitted by members of the Riigikogu Andres Herkel, Külliki Kübarsepp, Andres Ammas, Monika Haukanõmm, Ain Lutsepp, Krista Aru and Artur Talvik on 16 July.

In the opinion of the interpellators, in the complicated security situation, Estonia must have a very strong foreign policy and a strong Ministry of Foreign Affairs to implement it. Against the background of the aggravating problems in Europe and the world, they see foreign policy gaining importance and, in their words, it is difficult to overestimate the role of the Prime Minster and the Minister of Foreign Affairs. The interpellators referred to the fact that Marina Kaljurand is the third Minister of Foreign Affairs to have been appointed during the time that Taavi Rõivas has been Prime Minister.

The interpellators wished to know the Government’s positions and action plan in connection with the aggravation of the refugee problem, and continuation of the Eastern Partnership programme. They also had questions about Greece, the situation in Ukraine, and Estonia’s readiness for the EU presidency. Also the future of the foreign service of Estonia, and its readiness to help undertakings in the expansion of economic cooperation and stimulation of Estonia’s competitiveness.

The Prime Minister explained that Estonia is planning to keep the issue of Ukraine and the necessity of sanctions against Russia highlighted at all foreign policy meetings, by continuously explaining our assessments on the effect of Russia’s behaviour on the security of Europe.

The Prime Minister said that, in the mitigation of the migration crisis, Estonia continues to support an integral approach that encompasses the addressing of the root causes of the migration in cooperation with the countries of origin and transit, strengthening of the external border of the European Union, as well as solidarity measures based on proportionality to help the member states under extraordinary migration pressure through resettlement that has already been discussed at length today. “Deciding on the measures to resolve the refugee crises must in any case remain within the competence of the Member States and the Council jointly,” Rõivas said.

Looking back at the crisis in Greece, Rõivas said that the establishment of the Economic and Monetary Union as such has definitely been the right step, and the single currency has much more been beneficial for the countries than created risks for economic development. At the same time he admitted that insufficient attention had been paid to the prevention of possible crises.

Rõivas stressed that, during its presidency of the European Union, Estonia will aim to be professional and efficient, to have an open, transparent working style, and to be to the point. He said that people are of crucial importance for the success of the presidency. Circa 1000 people will be involved in the actual work relating to the presidency.

During its presidency, Estonia will be responsible for approximately 200 working groups. Development and training activities will be financed to the extent of 3 million euro from the European Union structural funds. This amount will be supplemented by the support financing to the extent of 615 000 euro over the next three years which is intended to support strategic staff placements, planned in the budget of the Government Office. He said that 74 million euro in total has has been planned in the state budget strategy, starting from this year until 2018, for carrying out the presidency.

Speaking of the foreign service of Estonia, the Prime Minister did not exclude the closing down of some missions of Estonia, because the Ministry of Foreign Affairs will have to reduce its staff by 55 people over the next five years. As an alternative, Rõivas mentioned the optimisation of the staffs of foreign missions. He added that an economic diplomat or a person responsible for the economy has been appointed to each of the total of 42 foreign diplomatic missions of Estonia.

Rõivas explained that Estonia is increasingly using the possibilities of honorary consuls to promote the Estonian economy and the business activities of enterprises. In total, Estonia has 195 honorary consuls in 84 countries.

The Prime Minister said that Estonia continues to strive to ensure that the European Union’s Eastern Partnership policy would be ambitious, offering partners extensive possibilities to approach the European Union. The three countries who have concluded an agreement are focusing on the implementation of these very extensive agreements.

Rõivas said that Estonia strives to ensure that Ukraine, Moldova and Georgia who have concluded the association agreements with the European Union receive the necessary support of the European Union. He noted that visa-free regime has been in place between the European Union and Moldova already for a year and a half, and it is functioning well. “I hope that very soon Georgia and Ukraine will also meet the relevant requirements for the visa-free regime which is understandably very important for the societies of both countries,” Rõivas said.

Rõivas also replied to the interpellations of concerning the “cluster Bills” submitted by the Government (No. 60) and the receiving of refugees (No. 61).

Prime Minister Taavi Rõivas did not have to reply to the interpellation concerning the Government’s information policy (No. 68), because the interpellators withdrew it.

The Minister of Health and Labour Jevgeni Ossinovski replied to the interpellations concerning gluten-free food (No. 38) and the work capacity reform (No. 34).

The Minister of Economic Affairs and Infrastructure Kristen Michal replied to the interpellations concerning the situation of micro-producers of renewable energy (No. 62) and the situation on the main roads of Estonia (No. 45).

The Minister of the Environment Marko Pomerants replied to the interpellations concerning the land reform in Estonia (No. 44), the compensation for environmental impacts (No. 49) and the burial of pig carcases infected with swine fever (No. 64).

During the open microphone, Jüri Adams took the floor.

The sitting ended at 9.44 p.m.

Verbatim record of the sitting (in Estonian).

Video recordings of the sittings of the Riigikogu can be viewed at: https://www.youtube.com/riigikogu

(NB! The recording will be uploaded with a delay.)

Riigikogu Press Service

Epp-Mare Kukemelk

T: 631 6356, 515 3903

epp-mare.kukemelk@riigikogu.ee

Queries: press@riigikogu.ee

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