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Statement by the Foreign Minister of Estonia, Mr. Urmas Paet, at the International Donors' Conference Towards a New Future for Haiti

31.03.2010

New York , 31 March 2010

Mr. President, Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,

The devastating earthquake that struck Haiti in the beginning of the year destroyed so much, and so undeservedly. A catastrophe of such magnitude touches us all, since there is not much a human being can do to protect itself against tectonic powers. The earthquake served as a wake-up call for the rest of the world, bringing out the best in us – a sense of sympathy, solidarity and support. This was also reflected in Estonia – a country which was not long ago in the phase of re-building and receiving strong international support herself.

After the catastrophic earthquake, Estonia immediately responded to the Emergency Appeal launched by the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies. In addition, Estonia has provided expertise through International Humanitarian Partnership – a humanitarian cooperation initiative of the United Kingdom, Sweden, Denmark, Norway, Finland, the Netherlands and Estonia. In the latter framework and in response to the request by the World Food Program, Estonian logistical, medical, information and communication technology experts, as well as mechanics, provided support to the humanitarian operations of the UN in Haiti. All in all, Estonia has contributed nearly half a million US dollars for alleviating the aftermath of the earthquake.

Estonia was cooperating with Haiti already before the catastrophe. During the last year Estonian experts, with the support of the Soros Foundation, were advising the government of Haiti on the development of an electronic-governance system, or “e-governance” for short. Our experts will continue to help drafting Haiti’s first strategy paper and action plan on “e-governance”. We strongly believe that in order to facilitate the set-up of a transparent and efficient public administration in Haiti, it is important to base this system on modern technology.

Today, Haiti needs not only the dedication and self-sacrifice of her people, including the Haitian diaspora, but it also needs all of us. I have the honor to announce that the Estonian government has decided to support the long-term recovery of Haiti with 100 000 US dollars to be channeled through the multi donor trust fund and UNICEF’s child protection programmes.

In conclusion, I would like to refer to a well-known development expert, Prof. Paul Collier, who believes that as Haiti’s fundamentals are remarkably favorable, its problems are fixable. With this in mind, I would like to express my confidence that today’s conference paves the way for Haiti’s progress in the coming days, months and years. Finally, I would like to thank the Government of the United States and the UNDP’s Bureau for Crisis Prevention and Recovery for having gathered the international community here today.

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