Prime Minister Trudeau holds a joint media availability with Prime Minister Ratas of Estonia
THE RIGHT HONOURABLE JUSTIN TRUDEAU (Prime Minister of Canada): Hello everyone! Thank you for joining us. Today we’re thrilled to welcome Prime Minister Ratas of Estonia. I was very much looking forward to sitting down with him for the first time here in Ottawa.
This meeting was an opportunity for us to advance shared priorities and strengthen our collaboration. We are both determined to encourage trade and stimulate economic growth that is broadly beneficial to the greatest number of people and ensure peace and security in Eastern Europe. We are united in our ambition to build a more prosperous, more egalitarian and more secure world. An ambition that is already being expressed within the multilateral institutions of which we are members like NATO, the OECD and the OSCE.
So it is in that spirit of cooperation that we have just finished a productive first meeting during which we discussed a wide range of topics. Regarding economic issues, we discussed the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement between Canada and the European Union. I want to emphasize that Estonia was among the first countries to ratify the Agreement in… this past October. Thank you very much for that. A decidedly modern agreement, CETA represents the future of our strengthened economic partnership founded upon common values and objectives.
It reflects a progressive trade agenda that makes provision for, among other things, workers’ rights, the environment, responsible investment, food security and consumer protection and the management of natural resources.
We also talked about digital cooperation. Estonia has long been a global leader in digital governance, harnessing the latest technologies to better serve its citizens. The work they’ve done through E-Estonia is truly remarkable and Canada can certainly learn a thing or two from their experience. As members of the Digital Seven and the Open Government Partnership, Canada and Estonia have already begun collaborating on this issue, but today we’re taking things a step further. We concluded a new memorandum of understanding on digital cooperation. This means that we will be working together on joint projects and sharing best practices to promote transparency, empower citizens, and improve government services.
Digital technologies are having a transformative impact on our economies and on our societies. We look forward to working with Estonia to explore opportunities for growth while respecting the need for individual privacy and data security.
Prime Minister Ratas and I also spoke about matters of defence and regional security. Canada has taken on a key role in Latvia, leading one of the four multinational battle groups as part of NATO’s enhanced presence in central and eastern Europe. Canadian officers are also stationed in Tallinn as part of the NATO forces integration unit in Estonia. I assured Prime Minister Ratas that we will continue to step up, as we have always done, now and into the future.
Finally, we discussed the ties that unite Estonians and Canadians; ties rooted in history. After World War One, Canada welcomed thousands of Estonian refugees who have since enriched our national fabric. We were also among the very first countries to recognize Estonia’s restored de facto independence in 1991. Today Canada is home to more than 24,000 Canadians of Estonian descent, representing one of the largest Estonian diasporas in the world. And it’s partly because of these immigrants and their descendants that Estonia and Canada are such strong partners and close friends.
We share not only a common set of goals, but a deep commitment to the values we hold dear. Values like democracy, the rule of law, and freedom of speech. These are the principles upon which our relationship was built and remain at the heart of everything we do. I have no doubt that together we will continue to advance our shared priorities and strengthen the ties that unite Estonia and Canada.
Once again, I want to thank Jüri, Prime Minister Ratas, for making the trip and thank you all for joining us. I’m now happy to pass it over to you Jüri. Please, Prime Minister.
THE RIGHT HONOURABLE JÜRI RATAS (Prime Minister of Estonia): Thank you Honourable Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. Justin, ladies and gentlemen, honourable press and media, I am really glad to be here today. We had a very good meeting. This year is special for Estonia and for Estonians around the world, also for Estonians living here in Canada. We celebrate the 100th anniversary of Estonia. Canada is home to one of the largest Estonian communities in the world. Thank you for accepting thousands of Estonian refugees and supporting them in keeping their culture over the years.
The more I feel honoured to celebrate the centenary of Estonia together with all of you. The transatlantic link with Canada is very dear and important for us. We are both actively contributing members of NATO. We value highly the Canadians who are providing security in the Baltic region. I hope that the strong Canadian military presence in Europe will continue.
Both Estonia and Canada are leading digital nations, members of the Digital 7 network. I think we can achieve a lot more by joining our digital competencies. We are taking today an exciting step ahead on this journey by signing a new memorandum of understanding of digital cooperation. This will boost innovation, create economic growth and new jobs; improve the lives of our people. Estonian business leaders joining me in this visit have already started to build stronger links here.
The EU and Canada trade agreement that Estonia has ratified already will also boost its business-to-business contacts. As Canada, Estonia is focusing on the development of the data economy and artificial intelligence. With Canada being among the global leaders in artificial intelligence research, I invite Prime Minister Trudeau as the first Canadian prime minister to come to Estonia. As you can see, Estonia and Canada have much in common, Estonians passion for digital, support for Ukraine: shared values. I’m convinced that in the future we will work even closer together.