Estonia to push for transparency on COVID-19 in UNSC: Envoy

Estonia to push for transparency on COVID-19 in UNSC: Envoy

This story first appeared in ETV Bharat

In an exclusive interview with senior journalist Smita Sharma, Ambassador Katrin Kivi says that Estonia was pushing very hard for the issue to be discussed in the Security Council which finally held closed-door consultations in March under the Presidency of Dominican Republic.

New Delhi: The Baltic nation of Estonia will lead the Presidency of the United Nations Security Council in May. As a non permanent elected member for two years (2020-2021), Estonia will push for ‘openness’ and ‘information transparency’ on COVID-19 in the Security Council, says its envoy to India.

In an exclusive interview with senior journalist Smita Sharma, Ambassador Katrin Kivi says that Estonia was pushing very hard for the issue to be discussed in the Security Council which finally held closed door consultations in March under the Presidency of Dominican Republic.

Smita Sharma in conversation with Estonian envoy Katrin Kivi

According to reports the meeting remained inconclusive but US took a swipe at China asking for transparency and timely sharing of public data.

While Beijing retorted to say the pandemic could be fought through global cooperation and not scapegoating anyone.

“In May we will absolutely address the Covid 19 crisis .We will ask countries to share information.Because at the current stage we do not have the full picture. This is why also it is too early to make any conclusions.We have to continue working on that matter and also paying lots of attention on cyber security.Since the outbreak of the epidemic cyber attacks have significantly grown,” said the envoy.

On 22nd May Estonian Prime Minister will chair an informal Security Council meeting on Conflict Prevention and Cyber Security which will be open to all UN member states.

The UN agenda was also discussed in a phone call between External Affairs Minister Jaishankar and his Estonian counterpart this week.

Asked about Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw WHO (World Health Organisation) funding on allegations of leanings towards Beijing, the envoy said that countries need to cooperate at the moment and not lose time and energy in blame game.

Estonia has increased its share of funding to WHO since the US announcement.

“We will also support the UN Secretary General’s appeal for a global ceasefire in all conflict zones. It has a huge humanitarian impact. We have to protect human lives and get access to all problematic areas globally,” added Ambassador Kivi.

Estonia, where Skype was born, has been home to several technology driven start ups and has been working closely with India to provide digital solutions since much before the Corona Virus outbreak.

The two countries have concluded three MoUs in the field of digitalisation and cyber security with Estonia working closely with regional governments in Telangana and Nagaland on E-governance.

A country of around 1.3 million people, Estonia has so far had over 1000 positive cases with nearly 50 casualties of Covid 19. However it is not using any mobile application for contact tracing.

“We have not been using mobile applications for contact tracing because of data security and personal data protection. It brings us to a very intriguing topic of how to find balance between technology and surveillance. In Estonia we pay huge respect to role of law and personal data protection.In a special situation a balance must be found to allow tracking as well. But so far we have not used it,” said Ambassador Kivi.

Asked about the apprehensions surrounding the Aarogya Setu App being pushed by the Indian government, the Estonian envoy stressed on the need for legal security frameworks.

“In Estonia we have a solid legal framework and government has been passing laws since we started digitalisation.It is not enough to invent new technology and for governments to encourage people to use them without securing legally the data protection at the same time,” the envoy replied.

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About Smita Sharma

Smita Sharma is a senior award winning independent journalist. She writes on foreign policy and security issues for various news organisations including ETV Bharat and Huffington Post. She was the Consulting Executive Editor for TV9 Bharatvarsh and Deputy Editor with The Tribune in the past. In more than 16 years of her journalism career she has also been a bilingual prime time anchor and foreign policy Incharge with leading TV news channels- India Today/ Aajtak/ CNN-IBN/ IBN7 and DD News. Her reportage of the Kashmir conflict in 2010 won the Ramnath Goenka Award. She is a an alumni of the Asia Pacific Centre for Security Studies (DKI-APCSS) in Hawaii.