On 10 February, Foreign Minister Eva-Maria Liimets met with Minister of State of the United Kingdom Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon, who attended the Global Conference for Media Freedom in Tallinn. In addition to human rights and media freedom, their meeting focused on Europe’s security situation, which is considerably deteriorating due to the build-up of Russian troops on Ukraine’s borders and in Belarus.
The ministers underlined that the most important counterbalance for these tensions would be to provide every assistance to Ukraine and its people. “Firstly, it is crucial to express broad political support for Ukrainians, both bilaterally and internationally. Secondly, Ukraine needs economic support to ensure their continued economic development and successful reforms. Thirdly, we must help them reinforce their defence capabilities, which would simultaneously constitute a deterrent. At the same time, Russia must end its military intimidation and take concrete steps to de-escalate the situation,” Foreign Minister Liimets said.
The foreign minister thanked the United Kingdom for its contribution to reinforcing the deterrence and defence posture of NATO’s Eastern Flank. “In our view, the statement by the British prime minister about doubling the size of the NATO battle group based in Tapa is crucial. The United Kingdom has led the NATO battle group based in Tapa since 2017 and has repeatedly taken part in the Baltic Air Policing mission in Ämari. This cooperation is very important for both countries and Estonia highly appreciates the contribution of the United Kingdom to our common security.”
Liimets recognised the UK minister for excellent cooperation in the Media Freedom Coalition. “It is impossible to fight the spread of disinformation without a free and functioning media. We are proud of the state of media freedom of our countries, as both Estonia and the United Kingdom are high in global media freedom rankings. This is why we have a joint responsibility to work towards freedom of speech and media freedom across the world, so that we would see progress instead of pressure and warning examples.”
The ministers also talked about excellent cooperation in the UN Security Council in 2020-21 and noted the need to continue cooperating on cybersecurity, a priority issue for Estonia, to ensure that the cybersecurity is an integral part of international discussions on peace and security.
The ministers also spoke about the hybrid attack by Belarus on European Union borders and the sanctions imposed so far, as well as concerns over human rights and political prisoners in Belarus, and the continued need to raise these issues at the OSCE and the Council of Europe.