Minister Reinsalu said that the Development Plan formulates the principles and means for shaping our foreign policy over the next ten years. However, specific policy choices that are currently being made in international relations have not been included in the Plan.
The Minister explained that the first section of the Development Plan concerns ensuring and strengthening our security. “The focus of our activities is on making sure that ten years from now we have sound regional security, increased presence and influence of Estonia worldwide, and a nation that has a reason to support the main priorities of our foreign policy,” he said. The second section includes steps to enhance Estonia’s standing in world trade, strengthen Estonia’s competitiveness, and sustainably increase the volumes of export and foreign investments. The third section in the Development Plan concerns offering consular services, visa-free travel, and providing travel information. The Minister also highlighted the importance of a professional and dedicated foreign service in reaching foreign policy goals.
The Minister said that although the current crisis has not revolutionised Estonia’s foreign policy objectives, principles and methods, we must keep an eye on the ongoing processes that would shape our foreign and security policy decisions. “The uncertainty that we are currently experiencing in many issues does not change the main foreign policy and security priorities for Estonia. The focus of our work stays on allied relations and cooperation in the European Union and NATO but also in international organisations like the UN. Transatlantic relations as well as Nordic-Baltic cooperation remain priorities,” Reinsalu said. “It is important for our foreign policy influence to exceed the expectations set by our mechanical numerical gravity.”
The Chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee Enn Eesmaa summarised the proceeding of the Development Plan, and the position of the Committee. “We would like to thank the authors of this first comprehensive Foreign Policy Development Plan of Estonia. It was needed yet complicated in equal measures”, he said. “A small state like Estonia is vulnerable to global changes, which are difficult to influence even from inside the UN. At the same time, most of the concepts in our Constitution remain unchanged, forming the foundation for our foreign policy objectives. It will definitely be worth everyone’s efforts to clearly define these,” Eesmaa said. He added that after the plenary debate, the Foreign Affairs Committee would forwards its positions along with the description of the legislative procedure to the Government who would confirm and pass it.
According to the Chairman, the Foreign Affairs Committee recognises the link and connection of the Foreign Policy Development Plan with topical strategies, and recommends that these be treated as one whole from here on. “We particularly emphasise the involvement of the Riigikogu and the provision of a constant input to the creation process of these strategies. Our first concern is the development of Estonia’s relations with specific regions and countries,” he said. Based on the role of the Riigikogu, the Chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee particularly emphasised the presentation to the Riigikogu of the annual report that analyses the implementation of the Development Plan. Eesmaa also stressed the Committee’s emphasis on the importance of NATO and the European Union in ensuring Estonia’s security, and cited the involvement of the Estonian diaspora, creation of more efficient consular services, and increasing the budget of the foreign service as other important topics for the Committee.
The Committee recognises that the spreading of the virus has led to major and rapid changes. “For this reason, we must definitely introduce updates on the future trends that will influence our foreign policy. This should neither obstruct nor slow down the development of our country. On the contrary, the foreign policy should also become more ambitious,” he said. “This is a good time for that – Estonia is holding visible positions at the Baltic and Nordic, the EU, and even the global level,” Eesmaa added. He emphasised that the Development Plan must be open. “Naturally, the Development Plan must be a so-called living document in our changing world; we must be able to add to it as external or even internal factors demand,” the Chairman said.
During the debate, Ruuben Kaalep (Estonian Conservative People’s Party), Anneli Ott (Centre Party), Raimond Kaljulaid (unaffiliated MP), Mihhail Lotman (Isamaa), Marko Mihkelson (Reform Party), Anti Poolamets (Estonian Conservative People’s Party) ning Siim Kallas (Reform Party) took the floor on behalf of the factions.
The Riigikogu passed two Resolutions
Under the Resolution of the Riigikogu “Appointment of the Representative of Estonia to the Control Committee of the Nordic Investment Bank” (188 OE), submitted by the Finance Committee, Aivar Kokk is appointed as the representative of Estonia to the Control Committee of the Nordic Investment Bank from 1 June 2020 until 31 May 2022.
The Control Committee is formed with the aim of ensuring conformity of the activities of the Bank to its Statutes. The Control Committee is responsible for auditing the accounting records of the Bank, and submits the annual auditor’s report to the Board of Governors of the Bank. The ten members of the Committee are appointed for up to two years. The Nordic Council and the Parliaments of Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania appoint one member from each country. Two members are appointed by the Board of Governors of the Bank to serve as the Chairman and Deputy Chairman of the Committee. The chairmanship and the deputy chairmanship of the Committee rotate among the member countries.
89 members of the Riigikogu voted in favour of passing the Resolution.
Resolution of the Riigikogu “Appointment of Acknowledged Experts in the Field of Activity of the Estonian Public Broadcasting as Members of the Estonian Public Broadcasting Council” (189 OE), submitted by the Cultural Affairs Committee.
In connection with the end of the mandate of respected experts in the field of activities of the Estonian Public Broadcasting Agu Uudelepp, Paavo Nõgenen, and Pille Pruulmann-Vengerfeldt, and under the Estonian Public Broadcasting Act, the following respected experts were appointed as members of the Council: Peeter Espak, Priit Hõbemägi and Viktor Trasberg.
The Public Broadcasting Council includes representative from each faction until the end of the mandate of the Riigikogu, and four experts from among the acknowledged experts in the field of activity of the Public Broadcasting with a five year mandate. Rein Veidemann as a respected expert will continue to head the Council. The Public Broadcasting Council includes the following members of the Riigikogu: Viktoria Ladõnskaja-Kubits (Isamaa), Marika Tuus-Laul (Centre Party), Jevgeni Ossinovski (Social Democratic Party), Valdo Randpere (Reform Party), and Urmas Reitelmann (Estonian Conservative People’s Party).
During the debate, Heidy Purga (Reform Party), Jevgeni Ossinovski (Social Democratic Party), Helle-Moonika Helme (Estonian Conservative People’s Party), and Marko Šorin (Centre Party) took the floor.
53 members of the Riigikogu voted in favour of passing the Resolution and 39 members voted against.
Photos of the sitting (author: Erik Peinar, Riigikogu)
Video recordings of the sittings of the Riigikogu can be viewed on the Riigikogu YouTube channel.
(Please note that the recording will be uploaded with a delay.)