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President Kaljulaid: The Estonian people genuinely care about Ukraine

President Kaljulaid: The Estonian people genuinely care about Ukraine © Mattias Tammet/Office of the President


Today, President Kersti Kaljulaid met with Volodymyr Zelensky at Kadriorg to assure him that Estonia continues to support Ukraine´s reform plans which aim to increase quality of life and improve the business climate. The visit focuses on furthering practical digital cooperation between the two states, and the presidents´ meeting was also centred around this topic.

"The Estonian people genuinely care about how Ukraine is doing," the head of state explained at the post-meeting press conference. "We continue to support your state´s growth, and we are willing to contribute in whatever way we can. Some examples of where the Estonian Centre of Eastern Partnership, the e-state Academy, Praxis and Mondo have helped out include building civil society and developing e-governance, e-health and the defence sector."

President Kersti Kaljulaid stressed that Estonia continues to strongly support a united Ukraine. "I myself have stood on the front line in Eastern Ukraine," she said. "I have stood next to the barrier dividing Ukraine and Ukraine. It is the same state on both sides, but the situations could not be further apart. It is important to move towards a political solution. At the same time, the general international public should never forget that this is not a conflict between two states and with two equally blame-worthy parties. We are dealing with a case of part annexation and aggression. Let us call on the international community to continuously take steps towards re-establishing Ukraine´s sovereignty and territorial unity."

During the meeting of the two heads of state, Ukraine´s economic environment was also discussed. "Our entrepreneurs are interested and want to invest in Ukraine," President Kaljulaid elaborated. "Ukraine´s market is vast and its scope ungraspable. However, we are both historically and culturally still similar to one another. Ukraine can potentially become the key driver of economic growth in the region. This, however, presupposes that investors are assured their investments are safe. I know the authorities are taking steps towards this goal, but the international business community can be reassured by specific cases being solved first."

During the visit, digital development is also being discussed, since the joint Estonian-Ukrainian Digital Society Sandbox event takes place this afternoon. "Digitalisation is a field that Estonia is considered to be driving forward – we are the bright Northern Star leading the way." Kaljulaid said. "But looking at the latest developments in Ukraine and comparing them with our ambitions, I have a feeling that Ukraine may even surpass us soon. If this is the case, I hope it is the result of our cooperation, already in existence today." Kaljulaid explained that, for example, the data exchange platform Trembita in use in Ukraine has followed the example of the X-road. "Today we as presidents lay the foundation for a new initiative, Digital Society Sandbox, and I hope it serves as a breath of fresh air. And I do not mean this in an abstract way – it should provide specific ways to advance communication between our enterprises and authorities," she added.

The heads of state of Ukraine and Estonia also signed a joint political statement where they acknowledged Ukraine´s aim to work with the European perspective (full text added). "Estonia continues to support Ukraine´s attempts to cooperate with the European Union and NATO," the Estonian President stressed at the press conference. "Yes, it takes time, but both international organisations must be open to Ukraine."

Today, Ukraine´s President Volodymyr Zelensky is on an official visit to Estonia, during which he will also meet with Prime Minister Jüri Ratas and president of the Riigikogu Henn Põlluaas. Additionally, in the evening, the presidents will participate in Digital Society Sandbox, which brings together digital society enthusiasts from Estonia and Ukraine. During the meeting, both presidents will sign a memorandum of cooperation that serves as a basis for real collaboration and joint projects in the realm of digitalisation.