The Swiss Times - Swiss News in English

Viola Amherd exchanges views with Estonian defense minister

President Viola Amherd met President Alar Karis and Defense Minister Hanno Pevkur on the second day of her visit to Estonia. The main topics of discussion were European policy, the security situation and the war in Ukraine.

Amherd was received by Karis at the presidential palace on Tuesday. "The discussion about the war in Ukraine was interesting," Amherd told a Keystone-SDA journalist present in Tallinn. The Valaisan spoke with her counterpart in particular about the high-level conference on the peace formula that Switzerland is currently organizing. This is a step that Estonia supports, she assured.

The war in Ukraine also came up in her conversation with the Minister of Defense. Estonia understands Switzerland's neutral position and that it is therefore unable to export weapons. "They are happy that we are doing a lot in the humanitarian field, including mine clearance," said Amherd.

She added that the Estonians are particularly interested in finding out whether Switzerland also carries out mine clearance at sea. As part of this mine clearance support, "we are looking at Ukraine's needs". Although Switzerland does not specialize in naval demining, if Ukraine were to express a great need in this area, "we would work together with specialists and look for solutions".

Exchange of experiences

The meeting with Pevkur also provided an opportunity to discuss bilateral relations in the area of defense. Both Switzerland and Estonia have a militia system and a similar system for mobilization. Around 20 years ago, Switzerland informed Estonia of its approach. Estonia then adopted the procedure and developed it further, said the Minister.

The head of the army, Thomas Süssli, will travel to Estonia in June to exchange ideas with his partners and see whether Switzerland can learn from developments in Estonia, Amherd continued. A reserve system is known in Estonia and the aim is to see whether this would be a possibility for Switzerland. He will also find out about cyber defense, an area in which Estonia has experience.

The Federal President later met Prime Minister Kaja Kallas. She spoke with her about digitalization, cyber security and artificial intelligence. The country is also further ahead with e-voting than Switzerland. In the last election, over 50 percent of voters used e-voting, said Amherd.

From Estonia, the President of the Swiss Confederation will travel on to Norway.


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