Estonia’s Main Foreign Policy Priorities
Minister of Foreign Affairs Mr. Ilves pointed out three strategic directions of Estonian foreign policy.
The main priority of foreign policy of Government remains guaranteeing Estonian national security. The Government is committed to increasing defence spending as rapidly as possible and has decided to raise the level of funding for defence to 2 percent of GDP by the year 2002. Estonia will continue to participate in peacekeeping efforts and contribute directly to securing international peace. In the next years, the Government intends to increase the size of Estonia’s permanent mission to NATO, mainly by increasing the number of military representatives.
The Government’s EU priorities are still clear: the most important foreign policy task is bringing the accession negotiations to a successful conclusion and becoming an EU member. Negotiations between Estonia and the EU have become more serious and substantive. The Government’s aim is still to be ready for EU accession by 1 January 2003. As the Commission stressed in its progress report, speed and quality are decisive factors in the accession process. According to the Commission, Estonian progress in approximating laws has been inconsistent. The 9 Th. Riigikogu has adopted only 14 EU-related laws of 31 drafts sent to the parliament by the Government. If Estonia continue at this pace, then it is possible that in next year’s report Estonia will be placed further down the list of accession countries.
Estonia’s accession protocols to the World Trade Organisation’s founding treaties were ratified in the Riigikogu. WTO membership is also one of the prerequisites for accession to the European Union. Estonia’s EU accession negotiations will proceed now on another level because in planning economic policy, Estonia now proceeds from the same WTO principles as the European Union.
Estonian’s main foreign policy priority is still national security. Negotiations between Estonia and the EU have reached a stage where Estonian accession depends largely on homework.
*The full version of the speech is available on the homepage of the Estonian Foreign Ministry at the following address: http://www.vm.ee/eng/pressreleases/speeches/1999/Riigikogu_25.html