At a meeting in New York with UN High Representative for Disarmament Affairs Angela Kane, Foreign Minister Urmas Paet said that Estonia has joined all the most important arms control agreements and is prepared to increase its contribution to the UN’s disarmament-related activities. Estonia would also like to become a full member of the UN Conference on Disarmament.
De-mining activity is essential for stabilising post-conflict countries and ensuring the safety of returning refugees. “Over the past ten years Estonia has supported the UN’s mine-clearing activities in Afghanistan, for example, and last year we supported mine-clearing in Libya,” Paet stated. “This year we are supporting mine-clearing activities in Mali,” he added.
Paet said that within the framework of the Mali project, we are supporting not only the clearing of mined areas but also safety education, providing aid to victims, and co-ordinating the activities of partners. “The goal is to reduce the risks stemming from unexploded mines, which could prevent humanitarian aid from being delivered or refugees from returning to their homes,“ he noted. During their meeting, Paet and Kane also talked about the negotiations over the Arms Trade Treaty that will take place in the UN in the second half of March. The Estonian foreign minister expressed hope that the negotiations would lead to the conclusion of a strong and effective agreement. Estonia is one of the vice presidents of the negotiations.
“We hope that the year-long effort will finally pay off and that most of the main arms exporters and importers will join,” Paet noted. He stated that the Arms Trade Treaty would be the first legally binding international agreement among states that sets criteria that exporting countries must follow when making supply decisions. “It covers arms embargos, illegal arms trade, genocide, crimes against humanity, and war crimes,” he listed.
At the meeting they also spoke about matters related to North Korea and the new sanctions implemented by the UN Security Council on Thursday.
In New York Paet also met with a group of Italian schoolchildren who were participating in a model UN session in New York and were representing the views of Estonia. Paet told the Italian students about Estonia’s activities in the UN, as well as the situation of the Estonian economy and matters related to the euro.