Estonia concluded visa representation agreement with Austria

Estonian Foreign Minister Urmas Paet and Austrian Foreign Minister Michael Spindelegger signed a visa agreement in Tallinn today according to which Austria will begin to represent Estonia in Saudi Arabia and Qatar. Foreign Minister Urmas Paet stated that Austria’s help in issuing visas is very important because it is an indicator of the European Union’s common foreign policy. Austria is the ninth nation that Estonia has concluded a visa representation agreement with. Together these agreements cover 57 countries.
The Austrian foreign minister expressed support for Estonia as the potential location for the European Union IT agency. “Estonia feels it is important that information technology be used more efficiently than previously for European Union interior security, and for this it is necessary to create a separate IT agency,” Paet noted. The Austrian foreign minister expressed the opinion that since Estonia’s IT sector is very highly developed, Estonia possesses all the qualifications to be a good location for the agency.
During his meeting with the Estonian foreign minister today, the Austrian foreign minister expressed interest in the Baltic Sea Region Strategy, and the foreign ministers acknowledged that the Baltic strategy has motivated the nations of the Danube region to come up with a similar strategy. Foreign Minister Paet told his colleague that the Baltic Sea Region Strategy sets the stage to make the area around the Baltic Sea a forward-looking and competitive region. “A significant goal of the strategy is to remove bureaucratic obstacles to developing the region—this includes the true realisation of the free movement of goods, services and people and the intensification of co-operation in the Baltic Sea region,” Paet explained.
During their meeting, the foreign ministers also discussed issues related to Iceland’s application to join the European Union.
The Estonian and Austrian foreign ministers agreed that European Union enlargement Foreign Minister Paet noted that after meeting with the Icelandic foreign minister it is clear that Iceland wishes to move forward as quickly as possible with the accession process.
The foreign ministers also addressed the global financial and economic crisis and Estonia’s accession to the Euro-zone. Foreign Minister Urmas Paet stated that Estonia feels a strong and stable Euro-zone is important, based upon the cornerstone of the Maastricht criteria and following the Stability and Growth Packet. “Upon fulfilling all the requirements, Estonia would like to join the Euro-zone at the earliest opportunity in order to ensure the good well-being of the economy in the long run,” said Paet.
Another topic at the meeting was energy policy and security. The foreign ministers confirmed that in order to ensure the energy security of Europe it is necessary to diversify suppliers, create additional energy connections among member states, and establish a functioning energy market. Foreign Minister Urmas Paet noted that a significant development for the Baltic Sea region is the approval of the Baltic Energy Market Interconnection Plan (BEMIP). The foreign minister also emphasised that the gas crises of the past years have clearly demonstrated the necessity of alternative suppliers and supply channels, like Nabucco and the Southern Corridor.
The Estonian and Austrian foreign ministers also talked about issues in the Western Balkans and Eastern Partnership. Foreign Minister Urmas Paet stated that Estonia supports visa freedom for all of the Western Balkan states with the European Union, which would help the region become more strongly connected to Europe and would also function as a significant measure to ensure peace and stability. In talking about Eastern Partnership, the foreign ministers felt that it is extremely important that the Eastern Partnership becomes a concrete and comprehensive policy that is an effective tool for bringing the target countries closer to the European Union.
Paet and Spindelegger also concluded an agreement on the exchange and mutual protection of classified information.
Foreign Minister Spindelegger also met with President Toomas Hendrik Ilves.
At their meeting, the future of Europe and the Treaty of Lisbon were discussed at length. “The Treaty of Lisbon is extremely important for the future of the European Union and all of Europe; luckily I am more optimistic regarding its passage than I was a year ago,” the Estonian head of state said.
President Ilves and Foreign Minister Spindelegger also spoke about energy security as one of the key issues for the political and economic security of countries, as well as the relations between the European Union and Russia.
The global economic crisis was also discussed at the meeting, in which regard the Estonian head of state stressed the need for decisiveness on part of all countries affected by the recession and the rejection of incomplete solutions in order to overcome the crisis.

Source: Estonian Review

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