The diplomatic ties between in Estonia and Ukraine are strong and Estonia always speaking in support of Ukraine, mainly the states cooperate in security, rehabilitation medicine and countering propaganda.
January, 4 2017 will mark the 25th anniversary of diplomatic relations between Ukraine and Estonia. According to Victor Kryzhanivskyy, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Ukraine in Estonia, over these years the countries have achieved “the highest possible level of cooperation”. “Estonia is one of the best Ukraine’s friends and partners. This is one of the countries that are ready to help us at all times and care for Ukraine to became stronger as a sovereign country,” stated the Ambassador at a Skype press-conference within the project of UCMC and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine “Diplomacy without borders”.
Victor Kryzhanivskyy mentioned that Estonia was one of the first countries to condemn Russian invasion in Crimea and was one of the co-authors of recently adopted UN resolution on human rights situation in Crimea. “In all international organizations that Estonia is a member of, it speaks in support of Ukraine,” he noted.
Estonia doesn’t feel safe in neighborhood with Russia, especially after the incident when Russian special services abducted Estonian counterintelligence officer from the Estonian territory. The government has already adopted a project on enhancing borders protection. Special equipment and surveillance systems will be installed there to prevent familiar cases in future.
There are not only pro-Ukrainian forces in Estonia. For example, a rather influential Center Party has strong links with Russian party “Yedinaya Rossiya” and stands for continuing strong cooperation with Russia. Most of their voters are Russian-speaking citizens of Estonia. Appointment of its leader Juri Ratas as a new Prime-Minister awakened serious concerns as in Estonia the government outlines foreign policy. However, the key messages in foreign policy did not change. “In the coalition agreement it is prescribed that Estonia will continue helping Ukraine to stand for its sovereignty and territorial integrity and to counter Russian aggression,” Victor Kryzhanivskyy noted. In addition, according to him, the tendencies show that the Center Party will soon become more pro-European.
In June and in December Ukrainian Minister of Foreign Affairs, Pavlo Klimkin, arrived to Estonia with official visits. During his first visit he held meetings with the President of Estonia, Estonian Minister of Foreign Affairs and the Speaker of Estonian Parliament. During the second visit he had a meeting with the new Estonian Minister of Foreign Affairs, Sven Mikser.
Moreover, Ukrainian Minister of Defense, Stepan Poltorak, and Chief of the General Staff, Victor Muzhenko, also had visits to Estonia in autumn. They examined Estonian experience in security and defense, especially experience on equipment of the frontier with modern technologies. “I think there will be further expert exchange and they will advise us how to install surveillance equipment to prevent illegal border crossing,” Victor Kryzhanivsky added.
Next year there will be visit of the Estonian Minister of Foreign Affairs to Ukraine and, possibly, the visit of the Ukrainian President, Petro Poroshenko, to Estonia. In addition, there are plans to hold an inter-governmental Commission on economic, scientific and technical cooperation.
Already 40 wounded Ukrainian soldiers underwent treatment and rehabilitation in Estonia. This project is implemented on funds of the Ministry of Defense of Estonia. It will be continued in 2017.
In addition, a non-governmental initiative raised charitable donations and organized tactical medicine trainings for 80 instructors from Ukraine. These instructors now can organize the same trainings for their colleagues in Ukraine. This program will be continued in the following year. Victor Kryzhanivskyy noted that the Ukrainian Embassy has awarded the volunteers with certificates of gratitude and will start discussion on possibility of financial support from the state for this project.
Ukraine in Estonian media
According to Victor Kryzhanivskyy, information about Ukraine appears almost every day and is mostly pro-Ukrainian. There are many Russian press and TV channels covering all the territory of the country, so the influence of Russian propaganda is rather important issue. However, even pro-Russian media are more objective comparing to what their colleagues in Russia may write. “If we notice biased materials about situation in Crimea and Donbas, we hold meetings and explain our position,” the Ambassador added.
Ukrainian channels are available through cable network, but there are no serious printed media.
Estonian experience of European integration
According to Victor Kryzhanivskyy, the process of European integration for Estonia was easier than it is now for Ukraine. One of the reasons is that there was stronger and consolidated pro-European mood in the society. In addition, the state organized a large-scale information campaign to explain to the public what EU membership means and what perspectives it will open for the country. “I guess what we really need is such explanation campaign throughout the country, for that older generations felt less nostalgic for Soviet past and thought more what would be better for future generations. If people were more aware of what EU and NATO are, it would be more difficult for Russia to find support here and to annex a part of our territory,” the Ambassador noted.
He added that Ukrainian experts consult with their Estonian colleagues during their work on new legislative acts aimed at approximation of Ukrainian legislation to European standards.