09 Nov 2012
Estonian World Review

On 8 November, at a conference on the Strategy for the Baltic Sea Region in Tallinn, Foreign Minister Urmas Paet said that the Estonian economy and our country’s well-being depend greatly on the situation in other Baltic Sea region states and how well we work together. “It is important for all of us to achieve an increase in the visibility and competitiveness of the Baltic Sea region and guarantee the movement of people, goods, services, and knowledge throughout the whole region with no obstacles,” said Paet.

The foreign minister stated that Estonia’s relations with countries in the Baltic region have become closer year by year. This is clear when looking at our foreign trade partners and the investments going into and out of Estonia. “For example, in the first 8 months of 2012 13.5% of Estonia’s exports went to Latvia and Lithuania and 36.5% went to the Nordic countries,” said Paet.

In talking about foreign investments made in Estonia, Paet noted that together, Sweden with 3.7 billion euros’ worth of investments and Finland with 3.1 billion euros in investments make more than half of the direct investments in Estonia. All the Nordic countries together hold 58% of the foreign investments made in the Baltic Sea region and 69% of the investments made in Estonia. “Of Estonia’s investments, 64% go to the Baltic Sea region. The largest amounts are in the economies of our Baltic neighbours – there are 0.8 billion euros invested in Lithuania and 0.7 billion euros in Latvia,” the foreign minister said, giving examples of Estonia’s investments.

The foreign minister said that there are sectors other than economic co-operation in which we could have better co-operation than before. “One of the most important issues for Estonia in the context of the Baltic Sea Region Strategy is the creation of new transportation connections on the eastern shore of the Baltic Sea and the establishment of new energy networks,” Paet said.

Within the Baltic Sea Region Strategy, Estonia considers the development of the internal market, including the digital internal market, to be important. Estonia also supports promoting co-operation among innovation and research companies and of course the free movement of people. “In order for this to happen we must move forward in the direction of concluding better agreements among countries in the region, which would regulate matters regarding living and working in another country,” said the foreign minister.

In his speech, the foreign minister noted that environmental concerns, particularly the poor state of our shared sea, were a major factor in the creation of the Baltic Sea Region Strategy. Therefore the ambitious goal of improving the state of the Baltic Sea by the year 2021 requires an ongoing effort from us all.

The conference “The EU Strategy for the Baltic Sea Region and Topical Legal and Economic Issues, Including Insolvency” is taking place at Tallinn University from 8-9 November. The discussions taking place at the conference will focus on trouble spots that are hindering the development of the Baltic Sea region in terms of legal and economic issues.

Full text of the foreign minister’s speech (in Estonian):

Additional information on the conference: