Kyiv, 22 March 2014 – “Estonia has always supported Ukraine’s European choice, our dream has always been to have Ukraine as a prosperous democratic society integrated into the European Union”, assured H.E. Ambassador of Estonia to Ukraine Sulev Kannike at a press briefing at the Ukraine Crisis Media Center.
Kannike mentioned historic and cultural ties between the two countries, giving out the figures of some 30 thousand people of Ukrainian diaspora in Estonia. “5-6 thousand of them have Ukrainian passports, others are residents in Estonia, Russia, other countries”, noted the Ambassador.
“The events that have happened in Crimea is a déjà vu for us”, said Kannike making parallels with a period in Estonian history at the end of the 1930’s-beginning of the 1940’s when the country along with Latvia and Lithuania found itself incorporated into the Soviet Union and up to 40 thousand of Soviet military troops were deployed on its territory.
However H.E. Ambassador Kannike is sure that “it’s very unlikely that the Crimean scenario will be repeated in Estonia. Our community is not really Russian but rather Russian-speaking and constitutes up to 20% of total population. Among them there might be older people who are nostalgic over the Soviet times however it’s not them who are making the climate”. According to Kannike real decision makers within the minority communities of Estonia are the young – Russians, Ukrainians, Jews, other nationalities present in Estonia. The European Union is the main destination of their travel and work priorities.
Responding to a question on Estonia’s potential reaction to aggression Kannike, former undersecretary for political affairs at the Ministry of Defense and former Estonia Ambassador to NATO said: “As a NATO member we would be a difficult target for the military aggression. Our defense system is integrated with the NATO system”.
H.E. Ambassador Kannike noted that Estonia has been providing financial and medical support to Euromaidan and is ready to continue its efforts. Estonian government has donated a total of 70 thousand euro of both its own resources and contributions of partner organizations, such as Soros Fund and Caritas. “Yesterday we arranged for transportation of 5 injured Euromaidan activists to be treated in Estonian hospitals”. Further financial support to Ukraine could be provided from funds of the Estonian Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Sulev Kannike has been the Ambassador of Estonia to Ukraine since September 2012. Starting from 1995 occupied a variety of posts within the Foreign Ministry of Estonia, including that of the Foreign Ministry’s counselor for global security matters in 2005-2007. From 2003-2005 served as the undersecretary for political affairs at the Ministry of Defense. From 1999 until 2003 Kannike was Estonia’s Ambassador to NATO. Prior to taking up his current position, Kannike served as Foreign Ministry undersecretary for political affairs.