The first item on the agenda was the deliberation of foreign policy as a matter of significant national importance. Reports were made by Minister of Foreign Affairs Urmas Paet and Chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee Enn Eesmaa.
Mr. Paet’s report focussed mainly on the problems of security policy. Highlighting the importance of NATO’s role in ensuring the security of Estonia, Mr. Paet emphasized two challenges facing the state: the increase in defence expenditure to 2 percent of the GDP and the requirement, that 8 percent of the armed forces should participate in foreign missions and 40 percent should be in stand-by position. “Estonia has promised to have 350 members of its Defence Forces, participating in international military operations by 2010,” Minister stated. According to the Minister, 244 members of the Estonian Defence Forces take part in foreign missions today.
Beside four foreign missions, Mr. Paet also named the development cooperation of the state and humanitarian aid as the fifth foreign political mission of Estonia. “The financial and ideological support to human rights and democracy in other countries is our national strategy and a part of our international security behaviour,” Mr. Paet said. This year the amount of Estonian development and humanitarian aid is predicted to be EEK 126 million.
Beside security policy, the Minister also touched on topics related to the European Union. According to the Minister, Estonia must form its attitudes towards the future of the EU Constitutional Treaty, Eurozone, energy debates, free movement of workers and services, financial prospects and the extent of enlargement. The Minister would like the accession to the Schengen Treaty to be brought into focus, as one of the foreign political objectives. The Minister also discussed the topics of economic security and energy security. “Estonia must be one of the engines that carry the European Union towards the elaboration of a common energy policy,” Mr. Paet said.
Enn Eesmaa’s report revolved around the importance of parliamentary diplomacy in international relations. “There are many problems to be solved in cooperation – terrorism and human trafficking, environment, sustainable development, migration and integration,” Mr. Eesmaa said. Speaking of the foreign relations of Estonia, Mr. Eesmaa stated that the ability of the state to familiarise itself with certain regions is not sufficient. According to Mr. Eesmaa, the Foreign Affairs Committee had decided to focus on China as one of the regions far from Estonia. “Better knowledge of this part of the world enables us to form our attitudes more clearly and proceed from them with a more purposeful attitude,” he stated. In the field of energy policy Mr. Eesmaa stated that the Foreign Affairs Committee of the Riigikogu would continue with the planned hearings concerning energy security. As one of the problems of the power supply, the Chairman of the Committee highlighted the decrease in Russia’s gas and oil supplies.
Presenters of the reports were asked numerous questions, then the representatives of factions and Members of the Riigikogu presented their reports.
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