Foreign Minister Urmas Paet participated in the European Union foreign ministers’ council on Monday, 27 July.
The EU foreign ministers decided to forward Iceland’s accession application to the European Commission for its opinion and to extend the European Union Monitoring Mission to Georgia until the middle of September 2010.
The European Union foreign ministers discussed enlargement policy with respect to Iceland’s accession application, and the council decided to ask the European Commission for its assessment or avis in order to begin accession negotiations with Iceland. Foreign Minister Paet stated that the accession application and the asking of the Commission’s opinion should not be politicised since this is first and foremost a technical process in which the fulfilment of accession criteria is addressed on the same bases for all countries. Foreign Minister Paet said that the foreign ministers’ council reaffirmed in its conclusions that the European Union completely supports the European prospects of the Western Balkan nations as well, at the same time emphasising that Albania’s accession application will be examined again following the elections in Albania. According to Paet, Iceland has already fulfilled about two-thirds of the EU accession requirements. “Estonia supports starting accession negotiations with Iceland soon, and following that Iceland’s accession to the European Union,” Paet noted.
The European Union foreign policy leaders talked about the situation in Georgia, specifically that the UN and OSCE observers have already departed and therefore the council of foreign ministers decided to extend the EU Monitoring Mission (EUMM) by one year. “The actions of the monitoring mission have been successful in implementing the principles of international law, creating trust, and preventing provocations, and the continued presence of an international mission in the region is necessary for ensuring stability and security,” said Foreign Minister Paet. “We must also continue to work in the name of the monitors gaining access to Abkhazia and South Ossetis,” Paet added. According to Foreign Minister Urmas Paet, the council’s conclusions turn their attention to the unresolved political issues that are inhibiting the work of the EU Monitoring Mission and making the situation in the region unstable, while still emphasising support for Georgia’s independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity.
During the general affairs portion, the European Union presidency Sweden gave a brief overview of the priority areas for the next half year, namely economic and financial topics, preparations for the Copenhagen Climate Conference and the Strategy for the Baltic Sea Region, as well as the further development of enlargement policy and the Neighbourhood Policy. Foreign Minister Urmas Paet stated that for Estonia, one of the most important topics is the approval and efficient implementation of the Baltic Sea Region Strategy. “The Strategy for the Baltic Sea Region is becoming a good example of macro-regional co-operation for the Danube region and potentially other regions that are working out regional strategies,” said Paet. Paet stated that it is also essential for Estonia that an international climate agreement is reached and Eastern Partnership is successfully implemented during Sweden’s presidency.
The European Union foreign ministers are also discussing the situation in Moldova. Foreign Minister Urmas Paet stated that the most important recommendations are pointed out in the European Union appeal to Moldova prior to the parliamentary elections, emphasising the importance of free and honest elections and stressing the necessity of peaceful dialogue between the Communists and the opposition. “Relations between Moldova and the European Union must become deeper, and this must occur on the basis of common values,” asserted Foreign Minister Paet. “Moldova must move forward with reforms that support the rule of law and ensure the democratic implementation of new elections,” Paet specified. According to Estonian Foreign Minister Paet, Moldova must also resolve its problems with Romania in such a way that guarantees the equal treatment of all European Union member states and the abolishing of a visa requirement for Romanian citizens.
Iceland’s application to join EU discussed