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Cablegate: Estonian Foreign Minister's Report to The

VZCZCXRO2760
RR RUEHAST
DE RUEHTL #0580/01 1700456
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 190456Z JUN 06
FM AMEMBASSY TALLINN
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 8755
INFO RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 TALLINN 000580

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV EN
SUBJECT: ESTONIAN FOREIGN MINISTER'S REPORT TO THE
PARLIAMENT

TALLINN 00000580 001.2 OF 002


1. (SBU) Summary: Foreign Minister Urmas Paet presented
his semi-annual foreign policy report to the Estonian
Parliament on June 6. On June 15 MFA Policy Planning
Director Raul Malk (co-author of the speech) told us
key take-aways included: a warning that Estonia was at
risk of overextension with the number of international
military missions in which it participated; notice that
Estonia was becoming less euro-skeptic in its approach
to the EU ? ?more like Ireland and Finland, less like
the UK?; expressions of concern over the political
influence that Russian investments could have on
Estonia; and, a signal the GOE would go forward with
plans to extend Estonia?s military mission in Iraq.
Opposition MP and Foreign Affairs Committee Deputy
Chairman Marko Mihkelson told us he was disappointed
Paet made no references to critical issues farther
afield, such as Iran. End summary.

---------------
SECURITY ISSUES
---------------

2. (U) Paet reaffirmed Estonia?s commitment to the NATO
?8/40? criterion. Estonia will follow through on its
promise to have 350 deployable troops by 2010. ?Only so
are we trustworthy allies. Our trustworthiness is the
best guarantee of our international security,? Paet
said. Paet also underscored that NATO was not just a
military organization, but a ?political-military one.?
He noted that Estonia currently has 244 military
personnel deployed on foreign missions, including 40 in
Iraq, 80 in Afghanistan, 89 in Kosovo, 33 in Bosnia and
Herzegovina. In the future, it would be critical ?not
to disperse (Estonia?s) strength, but rather to limit
the number of missions.?

3. (U) Paet said Afghanistan was the most important
mission for the Estonian Defense Forces. On Iraq, Paet
said Estonia would ?remain committed to the UN decision
and the endeavors of the Iraqi government.? Paet called
Estonia?s Development Cooperation and Humanitarian
Assistance Program 2006 ? 2010 the country?s ?fifth
foreign mission.? Support for human rights and
democracy elsewhere in the world was fundamental to
Estonia?s national strategy, and an important part of
international security.

4. (SBU) MFA Policy Planning Director Raul Malk told us
on June 15 that he thought Estonia was ?at the limit? of
what it could do in foreign military missions. Looking
ahead it would be important to have a more measured
approach when taking on new commitments. For example,
Malk said Estonia ?had to be a good European? and was
committed to participating in the EU?s Nordic Battle
Group. But he was not happy that 50 Estonians would
likely deploy with the group to Congo in early 2008.
?We can?t be in a position of saying ?everyone?s doing
it, so let?s go.??

------------------
ESTONIA AND THE EU
------------------

5. (U) In his remarks on the EU, Paet said Estonia had
?made a contribution to restoring the driving force of
the engine? by ratifying the Constitutional Treaty.
Estonia now must engage in Brussels on a range of
critical issues, including the fate of the treaty,
Schengen entry, eurozone issues, energy, free movement
of labor and services and the Financial Perspective.
Estonia would remain steadfastly supportive of
enlargement: every additional new Member State ?produces
security? simply by fulfilling the accession criteria.
Paet also stressed the necessity for close cooperative
activities and common analysis of NATO and the EU,
because ?the relations between NATO and the EU are, by
no means, what they should be.?

6. (SBU) The MFA?s Malk, as well as Prime Minister
Andrus Ansip?s EU Affairs Advisor Gert Antsu, told us
that Parliament and the press missed the key point of
Paet?s comments: that Estonia had migrated from a ?euro-
skeptic? camp over the past several years to a position
closer to that of ?Finland or Ireland? welcoming further
integration in key areas. Antsu underscored that such
views were fully compatible with Estonia?s continued
strong trans-atlanticist views on security policy.

-------
ECONOMY
-------

TALLINN 00000580 002.2 OF 002

7. (U) In his remarks FM Paet questioned the possible
influence investments ?from abroad? (Russia) might have
on Estonia?s security. ?The Estonian economy has to
become more transparent in order to prevent the
emergence of sizeable players with unknown background
who might seek to influence the domestic and foreign
policy decisions of the country's institutions,? Paet
said. With respect to Russian capital, each case had to
be viewed separately. Energy was a particularly
sensitive area, and one where the three Baltic states
shared concerns, such as the rise in the price of
energy, the energy systems excessive dependence on
Russian monopolies, separation of the Baltic energy grid
from the rest of the EU. The EU needed a common energy
policy.

8. (SBU) Commenting on Paet?s remarks, the MFA?s Malk
said Paet?s note of caution reflected ?some differences?
the MFA had with the Estonian Ministry of Economy on the
role of Russian investment. The MFA was undertaking a
study focused in particular on Russian investment in
media, energy and transit.

- - - - -
REACTION
- - - - -

9. (SBU) Paet?s speech was generally well-received by
Estonian media. Many observers credit MFA Counselor
(former Defense Minister and future Ambassador to
Latvia) Jaak Joeruut for having breathed some life into
what had become fairly predictable set piece.
Opposition MP and Foreign Affairs Committee Vice
Chairman Marko Mihkelson (Res Publica) told us he was
disappointed that Paet had not delved into topics
farther afield from Estonia (such as challenges in
Iran). Mihkelson thought this reflected a lack of
experience and fresh ideas among Estonia?s foreign
policy class. He has proposed that the government fund
a robust foreign policy institute that could help
develop such expertise.

10. Paet?s speech can be found at:
http://www.vm.ee/eng/kat_140/7567.html?arhiiv _kuup=kuup_
2006

WOS

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