Foreign Minister to Open Estonian Embassy in Minsk

Today, 20 October, Foreign Minister Urmas Paet will open the Estonian Embassy in Belarus in Minsk. Paet stated that Estonia would like to intensify Estonia-Belarus bilateral relations as well as relations between Belarus and the European Union in order to support Belarusian society continuing to open up to European values. Within the framework of his visit, tomorrow Paet will open an Estonia-Belarus business forum, which will have a 30-member Estonian business delegation in attendance.

While in Belarus the foreign minister will sign an agreement for the facilitation of investments and the protection of reciprocal investments between Estonia and Belarus, which will create equal business opportunities for investors and entrepreneurs in both countries.

Paet emphasised that Estonian entrepreneurs have great interest in Belarus, which is why more attention should be given to promoting economic contacts. "The investments our businessmen are making in Belarus have grown significantly over the past few years. In the future the embassy will help Estonian entrepreneurs establish contacts with the Belarusian side," noted the foreign minister.

Today Paet will also meet with representatives of Belarusian civil society. The Estonian foreign minister emphasised that direct contacts between individuals play an important role in enlivening bilateral relations.

"To develop relations, Belarus must continue to improve the human rights and freedoms situation. This requires the strengthening of civil society," said Paet. "Estonia has supported many projects geared towards developing Belarusian civil society," he added.

Paet said that Estonia and the European Union are interested in Belarus opening up to Europe step by step. "European Union Eastern Partnership offers many practical opportunities for co-operation between Belarus and the European Union," said Paet. "The European Union's technical aid and use of resources require a solid desire to co-operate on the part of Belarus," Paet added.

Paet will present a speech at the University of Belarus. He also has meetings scheduled with Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenka and Foreign Minister Sergei Martynov.

The visit, taking place from 20-21 October, is the first visit to Belarus by an Estonian foreign minister since diplomatic relations with Belarus were established in 1992.



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