On 16-20 January a group of 14 Ukrainian diplomats from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine were on a study visit to Tallinn and Helsinki. The week was intense and full of both formal and informal meetings on foreign and security policy, international relations, e-governance, cyber security, ICT, e-voting, and the priorities of Estonia’s Pesidency of the EU Council.
While visiting the MFA Estonia, the UA delegation had the pleasure of hearing from their Estonian colleagues about the priorities of the Estonian foreign policy and business diplomacy. At the Estonian Parliament and at the ICDS, the UA delegation were introduced to the Estonian perspective on the current security challenges in Europe and its neighbourhood. Mr Hannes Hanso, the Head of the National Defence Committee of Riigikogu, and Mr Ants Laaneots, the member of the Estonia-Ukraine parliamentary group in Riigikogu, went deep into discussion about the current security situation in Ukraine and future perspectives of it.
The top moment of the visit was the Ukrainian diplomat’s meeting with Mr Sven Mikser, the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Estonia. Minister Mikser underlined
the importance of ongoing bilateral relations between Estonia and Ukraine and acccentuated both Estonia’s and Europe’s continuous support to Ukraine in its reforms.
During the study trip the UA delegation visited also the Finnish MFA and the Helsinki based Crisis Management Initiative (CMI). The discussions focused on Finnish foreign policy, Finnish-Ukrainian bilateral relations and various conflict resolution cases currently on the table at CMI.
The visit of Ukrainian diplomats to Tallinn is financed by the Estonian Ministry of Foreign Affairs from the resources of Estonian development cooperation.
Mrs Marina Kaljurand visited the Diplomatic Training Center of the Georgian MFA and participated in panel discussion Nordic-Baltic Security Cooperation: Facing Threts From Russia
On 13-17 December the ESD graduate and the Former Minister of Foreign Affairs of Estonia Mrs Marina Kaljurand visited ESD’s project partner in Georgia – the Diplomatic Training Centre (DTC) of the Georgian MFA. In the frame of the visit Mrs Kaljurand gave a 2-day lecture course on practical diplomacy, and information and communication technologies. In addition, on Dec 16 Mrs Kaljurand together with Director Ekke Nõmm participated in a panel discussion entitled “Nordic-Baltic Security Cooperation: Facing Threats From Russia” co-organised by ESD and the Geogrian Foundation of Strategic and Interantional Studies.
The visit Mrs Kaljurand was financed by the resources of Estonian development cooperation in the framework of mulilateral project aimed at developing the capacity of DTC.
On Dec 14 Prof Egdūnas Račius from Vytautas Magnus University in Lithuania gave a public lecture on „What Cultural Environment the Refugees of the Middle East come from: A Look Beyond Islam”. In his lecture Mr Račius focused on two key topics. Firstly, he argued that it’s important to understand that not all refugees of the Middle East are Muslims – a common misconception. Mr Račius underlined that, in fact, non-Muslims face a bigger risk of being the target of insurgents and rebels due to which they are forced to flee their countr…ies. Secondly, in order to draw some conclusions on the cultural background of the refugees, one ought to understand what it actually means to be a Muslim in contemporary world. Yet, given the West’s lack of knowledge of both Islam and Muslims, there is a tendency to dislike everything related to Muslims: their behaviour, beliefs and culture. Mr Račius stressed that one should make a difference between muslimophobia and islamophobia. While the former is culture-focused hatred, the latter is religion-focused hostility.
This public lecture was organised by ESD in the framework of Estonian Network of Anna Lindh Foundation. In Feb 2016 ESD was elected the head organisation of ALF Estonia.
Invited to Tallinn by Estonian Parliament Riigikogu, Mr Klaus Welle, the Secretary General of the European Parliament, visited Tallinn on 2nd of Dec to hold a public lecture and meet the students of ESD. Mr Welle held a short speech entitleled The EU – Preparing For The Next 25 Years in which he looked the roots of all recent crisis in Europe: financial crisis, migration crisis, reviving views of political extremism etc. According to Welle, the blame for crisis lies within the EU member states that have not properly followed the rules and regulations set by the EU. For Welle it is important to ensure the implementation of three crucial security conceptions: external security, internal security and social security, which sould be granted within the EU as well as in it’s neighbourhood.
The main message of Welle’s address was that the EU should transit from its current, predominantly legislative regime to a supplementary, scrutinising and executive regime. The EU should offer capabilities when member states’ capacities have been exhausted. This includes the EU looking the at developments on all levels of member states’ actions. SG Welle pointed out that the integration of the EU is likely to continue, but there should be no euphoria to expect treay changes as the potentials of existing treaties have not been sufficiently used and exhausted yet.
ESD students asked Mr Welle questions related to security and Eastern Partnership. The event was moderated by ESD Director Mr Ekke Nõmm.
We thank the Information Bureau of European Parliament in Tallinn.