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The report of the Foreign Affairs Committee “The Opportunities and Interests of Estonia in Asia until 2025” was deliberated as a matter of significant national importance in the Riigikogu today. Reports were by Chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee Marko Mihkelson, the Minister of Foreign Affairs Urmas Paet and Chairman of the Supervisory Board of the Estonian Development Fund Raivo Vare

In Mihkelson’s words, the aim of the report is to map Estonia’s national interests and potential activities in the coming years in order to secure its positions in the international competition at the outset of the rise of the Asia-Pacific region. 

The report has been prepared on the basis of the hearings of the Asian strategy in the Foreign Affairs Committee this year and last year and it looks at the development trends in Asia from as many different angles as possible, gives an overview of Estonia’s foreign and economic policy towards Asia and presents recommendations to the Government. The report incorporates the information forwarded to the Committee of Foreign Affairs in oral or written form in the course of the hearings, complemented by facts, figures and statistics from public sources. 

Mikser pointed out the opinion of the Foreign Affairs Committee according to which it is indispensable that, in order to ensure a more active communication towards Asia, already today government authorities engage in systematic strengthening of the relevant capacities, including, for example, language skills or availability of information in Asian languages. This concerns particularly the targeted preparation of diplomats because, differently from the foreign missions in the West, Asian target countries need a much more specific approach. 

The hearings of the Foreign Affairs Committee had revealed that, in relation to Asia, our companies expect support from the state mostly in finding contacts and making available the relevant information. As concerns the latter, then they do not exclude the option of the services concerning economic information being provided for a fee. 

Great importance was attached to enhancing closer cooperation between the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Enterprise Estonia in order to guarantee necessary consular services to target groups who are interested in Estonia and the increasing of Estonia’s visibility in the target country. In order to enhance communication with Asian countries, high level business visits should be used more effectively. The Government of the Republic might plan at least two high-level visits together with business delegations to Asian countries every year. The President of the Republic should also be more active towards Asia. At the same time, it is important that visits be followed by feedback and targeted development of what has been achieved. In order to tighten the mutual relations between Estonia and Asian countries it would be necessary to map, on the basis of the existing contractual basis, the needs of expanding it and to set goals and deadlines for further actions. 

Paet explained Estonia’s objectives in its Asia-related foreign policy which are largely similar to those pursued in relation to the rest of the world. As the Minister of Foreign Affairs said, the ambition is that communication with Asian countries would allow to increase Estonia’s security and economic welfare, and would help promote democracy and human rights, support the interests of our citizens and enterprises and increase Estonia’s influence and good reputation in the world. 

Vare noted that entering an Asian market requires more constant and professional analysis and a future vision. It equally requires joint efforts for market analysis, development of business models, logistical organisation of business, and establishing of relations and opening of doors at the authorities’ level. 

Marianne Mikko, Marko Mihkelson, Margus Hanson and Vladimir Velman took the floor during the debate. 

The report is available on the Foreign Affairs Committee website: https://www.riigikogu.ee/public/Riigikogu/Valiskomisjon/Raport_valiskomisjon_2012_net.pdf

The Riigikogu Press Service