Satisfied with France, hopeful with regards to the Czech Presidency

The Eston­ian gov­ern­ment con­sid­ers the French Pres­i­den­cy to be a suc­cess­ful one, rec­og­niz­ing that it had to deal with many extra­or­di­nary events and man­aged to “address them very well”.[1] In par­tic­u­lar, Esto­nia appre­ci­ates the active role that the French Pres­i­den­cy took in medi­at­ing the Russ­ian-Geor­gian cri­sis, and secur­ing the ces­sa­tion of mil­i­tary activ­i­ties rel­a­tive­ly quick­ly. At the same time, there was a wide-spread impres­sion that France was too eager to nor­mal­ize rela­tions with Rus­sia after the lat­ter had with­drawn its troops from Abk­hazia and South Osse­tia.

Oth­er French suc­cess­es, accord­ing to For­eign Min­is­ter Urmas Paet, include the EU mil­i­tary oper­a­tion off the Soma­lian coast in response to pirate attacks (Eston­ian sailors have repeat­ed­ly been held cap­tive by pirates and their fate has been fol­lowed close­ly by the media) as well as rapid reac­tion to mil­i­tary con­flict in the Gaza sec­tor. Esto­nia also appre­ci­at­ed the fact that impor­tant agree­ments were reached in the field of ener­gy and ener­gy secu­ri­ty dur­ing the French Presidency.[2]

Five shared priorities

Accord­ing to For­eign Min­is­ter Paet, Esto­nia shares the objec­tives of the Czech Pres­i­den­cy and the posi­tions of Esto­nia and the Czech Repub­lic coin­cide “on all impor­tant issues”.[3] Esto­nia also regards the Czech Pres­i­den­cy as a good oppor­tu­ni­ty “to reduce the still-per­sist­ing prej­u­dices regard­ing the capac­i­ty of coun­tries that joined the EU in the two recent rounds of enlargement”.[4] Estonia’s pri­or­i­ties for the Czech Pres­i­den­cy include the following:[5]

  1. Progress in acces­sion to the Euro­zone and bet­ter imple­men­ta­tion of the struc­tur­al funds: Esto­nia aims to ful­fil con­di­tions to adopt the sin­gle cur­ren­cy in 2010. Dur­ing the Czech Pres­i­den­cy, Esto­nia seeks to secure a pos­i­tive assess­ment of the government’s renewed con­ver­gence pro­gram. Esto­nia has not been par­tic­u­lar­ly effec­tive in imple­ment­ing the struc­tur­al funds and needs to improve its per­for­mance in this respect.
  2. Ener­gy secu­ri­ty: Esto­nia would like to see progress with­in the frame­work of Strate­gic Ener­gy Review, Euro­pean Eco­nom­ic Recov­ery Plan and Baltic Inter­con­nec­tion Plan. Esto­nia hopes to reach an agree­ment on the cri­te­ria on EU financ­ing for ener­gy infra­struc­ture projects.
  3. Devel­op­ment of the Baltic Sea strat­e­gy: Esto­nia looks for­ward to the Commission’s com­mu­ni­ca­tion on the issue, due in June 2009. Esto­nia sup­ports the strat­e­gy that con­cen­trates on devel­op­ment of the inter­nal mar­ket both in the region and the EU, and pro­motes free move­ment of knowl­edge.
  4. Devel­op­ment of a com­mon IT-strat­e­gy in the field of Jus­tice and Home Affairs. Esto­nia hopes that such a strat­e­gy will help strength­en the secu­ri­ty of the Schen­gen area.
  5. Fur­ther devel­op­ment and strength­en­ing of imple­men­ta­tion mea­sures of the Euro­pean Neigh­bour­hood Pol­i­cy and espe­cial­ly the East­ern Part­ner­ship.

In non-gov­ern­men­tal cir­cles, expec­ta­tions for the Czech Pres­i­den­cy also include pro­mot­ing the inte­gra­tion of the his­tor­i­cal expe­ri­ence of East­ern Europe into the dom­i­nant pan-Euro­pean his­tor­i­cal nar­ra­tive and mak­ing sure that the vic­tims of all total­i­tar­i­an regimes receive equal sta­tus, equal sym­pa­thy and sol­i­dar­i­ty. Tunne Kelam and Mar­i­anne Mikko, both Eston­ian Mem­bers of the Euro­pean Par­lia­ment, have expressed hopes that Prague will be suc­cess­ful in con­demn­ing the crimes of com­mu­nism. Kelam wants Czech Prime Min­is­ter Mirek Topolanek to achieve the recog­ni­tion of 23 August (anniver­sary of the Molo­tov-Ribben­trop pact) as a memo­r­i­al day of the vic­tims of both com­mu­nism and Nazism. He also calls on the Czech Pres­i­den­cy to ini­ti­ate a process that would lead to “giv­ing a pan-Euro­pean moral and polit­i­cal assess­ment to crimes com­mit­ted under total­i­tar­i­an com­mu­nist regimes”. [6]

 

 

 

[1] „Paet peab Prantsus­maa eesis­tu­mist edukaks,” Pos­timees, 2 Jan­u­ary 2009, avail­able at: http://www.postimees.ee/?id=64255.
[2] Ibid.
[3] Min­istry of For­eign Affairs Press Release, “Paet koh­tus Euroopa Liidu järgmise eesis­tu­ja­ga,” 4 Decem­ber 2008, avail­able at: http://www.vm.ee/est/kat_42/10424.html?arhiiv_kuup=kuup_2008_12.
[4] „Urmas Paet: tše­hhid lõhu­vad eelar­va­musi, Pos­timees, 26 Jan­u­ary 2009, avail­able at: http://www.vm.ee/est/kat_45/10582.html?arhiiv_kuup=kuup_2009.
[5] „Estonia’s pri­or­i­ties in the Euro­pean Union dur­ing the Czech pres­i­den­cy,“ approved on 22 Jan­u­ary 2009, avail­able at: http://www.riigikantselei.ee/failid/CZ_eesm_rgid_EN.pdf.

[6] „Kelam: Tše­hhi peab saavu­ta­ma 23. augusti ühise mäles­tus­päe­vana,” Pos­timees, 14 Jan­u­ary 2009, avail­able at: http://www.postimees.ee/?id=69359.