At the tourism fair TOUREST, 17 February , Foreign Minister Urmas Paet noted that last year the Foreign Ministry completed a third more consular tasks than it had in 2010. “In 2011 Estonian consuls carried out a total of 50 118 registered consular procedures,” said Paet.
According to the foreign minister, the types of procedures that increased the most were those meant for Estonian citizens living abroad. “Estonian consuls have made a significant contribution to, for example, recording information on citizens’ place of residence by completing the procedure to register a person’s permanent place of residence,” he noted. “I’m also pleased to see that more and more citizens are registering themselves with the Foreign Ministry prior to travelling,” he added.
While the number of consular tasks in general increased, Foreign Minister Paet said it is a good thing that the number of consular aid situations was not greater in 2011 than it was in 2010. “Citizens are now more knowledgeable and aware, so they’re doing more preparation work prior to going on a trip,” he stated.
Paet also emphasised that as a result of co-operation done with other European Union member states, it is possible for our citizens to get help in countries where Estonia does not have a representation or honorary consul. “Estonian citizens are guaranteed to get urgently needed consular aid in practically every region in the world. In 2011 other member states helped our citizens in Fiji, Tajikistan, Ethiopia, and Myanmar, to name a few,” the foreign minister stated. “If someone has an urgent question or needs help he can also call the Foreign Ministry’s consular aid hotline 24/7,” he added.
Expanding our network of foreign representations will also help to better aid Estonian citizens abroad. “In 2011 we opened an embassy in Astana and a consulate general in Sydney. This year we will open an embassy in India,” Paet noted.
The foreign minister said that the Foreign Ministry will also continue to conclude representation agreements with other European Union countries. “In 2011 it became possible to apply for a visa to visit Estonia in, for example, Cuba and the Republic of South Africa, where Estonia is represented by Sweden. In January of 2012 we concluded an agreement with Lithuania, which will start to represent us in Almaty. In 2012 Italy will start representing Estonia in Kosovo and Estonia will start representing Lithuania in Sydney,” said Paet. Currently Estonia has concluded representation agreements for the issuing of visas in 84 countries.
Foreign Ministry Performed a Third More Consular Procedures Last Year