Estonian Foreign Minister Urmas Paet and Franco Frattini, the first Italian foreign minister ever to come to Estonia for an official visit, discussed Estonia-Italy co-operation opportunities regarding the restoration of historical monuments that were damaged in the fatal earthquake that struck Italy on 6 April of this year.
Foreign Minister Paet stated that Estonia will help to rebuild the historical and cultural monuments of the Abruzzo region. "Italy did not require aid for rescue work immediately after the incident, but they did request for European Union member states to help by working together to restore the monuments," said Paet. "We want to answer the Italian government's request and make our contribution to rebuilding the city," he added.
Today, 8 September, the Estonian and Italian foreign ministers also signed an agreement for co-operation against organised crime, terrorism and the illegal drug trade between the Government of the Republic of Estonia and the Government of the Republic of Italy.
Paet and Frattini also discussed matters related to Europe's immigration policy. Foreign Minister Paet stated that Estonia, as a border state, understands very well the concerns that Italy and other Southern European states have about immigration issues. "Mediterranean countries' growing problems with receiving immigrants and sending them back requires a speedy reaction as well as solidarity from European Union member states," stated Paet. Estonia contributes to resolving the problems of illegal immigration primarily through participation in the work of the European border guard agency FRONTEX. "It is essential to focus on development co-operation and fighting against the reasons for illegal immigration, for example poverty, military conflicts, and environmental disasters. It is also important to co-operate with the source and transit countries for immigration in order to raise their development levels and increase opportunities for people there, so that the people will desire to live in their home countries," Paet added.
Urmas Paet also addressed how using information technology in a more efficient way than before in the EU's interior security sector is very important. "The number of information systems that can be used by European nations could be increased significantly in the near future, depending on the development and implementation of information systems. This is why we feel the creation of a concrete agency responsible for the European Union is necessary," Paet explained. "Taking into account Estonia's developed IT sector, we believe that Estonia could be a good location for this future institution," he added.
Foreign Minister Urmas Paet and his Italian colleague Franco Frattini agreed that contacts between Estonia and Italy are remarkably tight. "Next year we plan to hold a business forum in Tallinn in co-operation with the Italian Foreign Trade Ministry and Foreign Ministry, which will hopefully give momentum to contacts between Estonian and Italian businesses," Paet stated. The first working visit by Estonian businessmen and economic officials to Italy took place in 2001. In 2005 close to 70 Italian entrepreneurs participated in a business seminar in Tallinn.
Paet also invited Italy to participate in the European Capital of Culture Tallinn 2011 project.
While talking about the situation in Afghanistan, Foreign Minister Paet felt it was necessary to make additional efforts and to better co-ordinate the activities of the EU, NATO and the UN in the Afghanistan aid mission.
While discussing the future of the Baltic Sea region, Foreign Minister Paet emphasised that the approval of the Strategy for the Baltic Sea Region during the October council is very important. "The co-operation of the Baltic Sea region states could be a very successful example for new initiatives in other regions of the European Union, and as a result the competitiveness of the Union as a whole would increase," said Paet.
At their meeting, the ministers also discussed matters related to EU enlargement, Eastern Partnership, UN Security Council reform, and the EU's relations with Russia.
The joint press conference of the Estonian and Italian foreign ministers can be heard at:
Additional information on Estonia-Italy relations: http://www.vm.ee/eng/kat_176/2375.html
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