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Estonian President to the Polish Head of State: as friends, we stand together for a democratic Europe


"Estonia and Poland are close allies and friends, who share similar patterns for thinking and action, and stand together for a democratic Europe," told the President, Toomas Hendrik Ilves, who arrived in Poland today with Evelin Ilves for a state visit.

"Poland is the leader of the Baltic Sea region, one of the most important strategic partners of Estonia and a responsible spokesperson in ensuring the safekeeping of our shared values," said the Estonian Head of State after a meeting with the President of Poland, Bronislaw Komorowski.

"We share the sense of security, a common understanding of the importance of defence expenditures and joint exercises," admitted President Ilves, emphasising the importance of security co-operation between the two countries. "Poland's continued contribution to the air security mission of the alliance remains importance for the purposes of NATO deterrence."

When speaking about the crisis in Ukraine, the Estonian Head of State said that this has become a crisis for Europe in general: "Estonia and Poland both understand that this is not just the issue of Crimea; it is an issue of relations between Ukraine and Russia. This represents a geo-political shift, which will at a minimum change the security situation for the immediate future in Europe in general, as well as relations between democratic countries and Russia."

He encouraged the European Union and NATO to ask: what are our efficient counter steps to Russia, which has trodden over the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine, international law, the Articles of Association of NATO and OSCE basic principles with its armoured vehicles and soldiers?

"The collective position of the European Union cannot rely solely on the price of Russian gas, but common values upon which our union relies," warned the Estonian Head of State.

Presidents Ilves and Komorowski emphasised that the next NATO summit in September should focus on improving the efficiency and credibility of collective defence in the territory of the alliance, the visible military presence of the United States of America being an inseparable component of the picture.

The two heads of state described as important the continued and determined support for the euro-integration of Ukraine, Moldova and Georgia, the European Union's Eastern Partnership countries.

The Estonian Head of State is accompanied in Poland by a representative business delegation that consists of 24 businessmen, which shows the current scope of business contacts between the two countries and, even more importantly, the perspectives for the future. Last year, Poland became the seventh most important trading partner of Estonia, behind Germany; the scope of trade between Estonia and Poland was the largest – 23 per cent.

The Estonian Head of State will have discussions in Poland with President Komorowski, Speaker (Marshal) of the Polish Senate, Bogdan Borusewicz, Speaker (Marshal) of the Polish Sejm, Ewa Kopacz, Prime Minister Donald Tusk, and the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Radosław Sikorski.

The official delegation accompanying President Ilves includes the Minister of Defence, Urmas Reinsalu; the Minister of Economic Affairs and Communication, Juhan Parts; the Minister of Culture, Urve Palo; the Rector of University of Tartu, Volli Kalm; Commander of the Estonian Defence Forces, General Major Riho Terras; Secretary General of the Ministry of Culture, Paavo Nõgene; winner of the Young Cultural Figure Award of the President of the Republic, pianist Mihkel Poll, and members of the Riigikogu, Andre Sepp and Kalev Kallo.

President Ilves will open an Estonian-Polish business forum on Wednesday with the Polish Head of State and will give a speech entitled "25 years on: changes in mental geography in Europe" at the University of Warsaw. He and his wife will also pay a visit to the Warsaw Uprising Museum (Muzeum Powstania Warszawskiego).

On Thursday, the Estonian Head of State and Evelin Ilves will visit Gdansk where they will place a wreath at the monument to the shipbuilders who died in 1970. President Ilves will visit the exhibition "Road to Freedom", Gdansk Science and Technology Park, the Convent of Polonia that also has links to Estonia, and the Polish-Estonian business seminar that takes place in Sopot.

Evelin Ilves will visit the "Budzik" ("Alarm Clock") private clinic in Warsaw for children in a coma, a school for children with Down syndrome, of which Anna Komorowska is a patron, museum of ethnography, workshop of jewellers, Wytwornia Antidotum, and the World Hearing Center.

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