Republic of Estonia
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) is responsible for, and co-ordinates Estonia’s development cooperation in terms of policy planning and implementation. A separate Development Cooperation Division, established in 2001, in the External Economics and Development Cooperation Department of the MFA is the co-ordinator for policy planning and implementation. The Development Cooperation Division is lead by a Director and consists of five diplomats. Furthermore, one diplomat responsible for development cooperation issues is also positioned at the Estonian Representation to the European Union.
Being the main body responsible for international development cooperation, the MFA has, since 2004, a separate budget line for development cooperation and humanitarian aid. Other governmental agencies may, however, implement specific projects and other activities considered as development cooperation in the scope of their competencies and financed by their own budgets.
Estonian objectives and priorities for development cooperation policy are outlined in the ‘Principles of Estonian Development Cooperation’, approved by the Riigikogu (the Parliament) in January 2003 as a successor of the previous policy document.
The updated Parliament-approved document states Estonia’s continuous support for countries and regions striving to achieve consistent economic and social development. As an integral part of Estonian foreign policy, development cooperation is directed towards ensuring peace, democracy, the observance of human rights, economic and social stability and the eradication of poverty in the world in accordance with internationally approved principles of sustainable development. Estonia is basing its assistance on the principle that the main responsibility for development primarily lies on the developing countries themselves.
Since 1998, development cooperation has been an increasingly important foreign policy instrument for the Republic of Estonia. In 2009, Estonia spent about 0.1% of its Gross National Income (GNI) on development cooperation, i.e. €13 million. It intends to steadily increase its share as well as to advance its status and role among other international donors.
As Estonia has been successful in rebuilding a democratic state and society, it is able and willing to share its reform experiences and practical knowledge with countries interested in learning from Estonia’s know-how, mainly amongst Azerbaijan, Armenia, Belarus, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Moldova, Russia, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Ukraine and Balkan countries.
In order to improve the planning processes and use of financial means, in May 2006 the Estonian Government approved the ‘Strategy of Estonian Development Cooperation and Humanitarian Aid’ (2006-2010). This strategy formulates the objectives of Estonian development cooperation and humanitarian aid. The fields of activities and major partners among the countries and international organisations have been specified up to the year 2010. The priority partner countries of Estonian bilateral development cooperation are Georgia, Moldova, Ukraine and Afghanistan.
The strategic objectives of Estonian development cooperation are:
- To contribute to reducing global poverty and human development in developing countries
- To support peace and stability, the granting of human rights, the development of democracy as well as the promoting of good governance practices in developing countries
- To support economic development and the liberalisation of international trade system
- To support environmentally sustainable development
The European Commission is the major channel of Estonian ODA and Estonia is strengthening its participation in the respective EU policymaking; in particular where it possesses specific knowledge and experience.
Through voluntary contributions, Estonia is regularly supporting the operations of several United Nations agencies, such as UN Development Programme (UNDP), UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), UN Office for the Co-ordination of Humanitarian Affairs, UN Voluntary Fund for Indigenous Populations and UN Voluntary Fund for the International Decade of the World’s Indigenous People.
Support for SRHR and HIV/AIDS activities
Estonia does not have a specific policy for supporting SRHR and the fight against HIV/AIDS. The health sector is also not a development cooperation sector where Estonia is planning to increase its activities in the future, although several projects for basic healthcare provision and training have been approved in the past, as recently as 2009, via annual voluntary contributions.
Co-operation with NGOs
NGOs are considered to be very important partners for the public sector in influencing policy-making procedures as well implementing development cooperation projects. Estonian NGOs play an important role especially in bilateral development cooperation, where many projects are implemented by them.
The Estonian Development Cooperation Roundtable brings together NGOs interested in development issues. It is the main partner for the government from the civil society in the issues of development cooperation.
Marje Sotnik, Director Development Cooperation Division, External Economic and Development Cooperation Department, Ministry of Foreign Affairs
Ministry of Foreign Affairs: Procedures for the Provision of Development Assistance and Humanitarian Aid, 2003.