Kallas' speech at 13th ASEM Summit

25.11.2021 | 13:28

Virtually from Stenbock house, 25th November
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Honorable Prime Minister Hun Sen
Leaders from Asia and Europe

I would like to echo the previous speakers in complimenting Cambodia for hosting this year´s summit. It comes at an opportune moment demonstrating close and friendly European–Asian relations.

Fora such as ASEM are necessary for a stable global environment. Exchange of ideas benefits our citizens and is timely as we strive to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic.

We find ourselves more intertwined than ever before - we face climate crisis, malicious cyber operations and the social and economic upheaval created by the pandemic. The night is always darkest before dawn. I am encouraged to see countries across the globe waking up to these challenges and taking steps to mitigate them.

Many of us recently attended the UN Climate Conference in Glasgow where we agreed upon the Rule Book of the Paris Agreement, which will guide us on our road to climate neutrality. According to the Glasgow Climate Pact, we will keep on raising our Nationally Determined Contributions and raising the financing to achieve the climate goals globally.

At the intersection of these themes and at the heart of our efforts lies global connectivity policy—the digital and physical infrastructure that binds the world together: from roads and railways to broadband internet, and interpersonal contacts. We refer to the digital and green transformations as “the twin transition” for a reason: the adoption of digital solutions reduces waste, spares the environment, and improves the well-being of our citizens.

Thus, quality, sustainable, and trustworthy connectivity should be front and center in the minds of all of us. Estonia is interested in working with partners who are willing to change course: what we need are transparent public- and private-sector investments into high-quality, sustainable cross-border infrastructure projects. Our actions should be based on our common interests, democratic values, and high standards.

This process begins by building trust—our confidence in technology and in the political and legal systems that govern them. After all, the values we integrate into our digital architecture now will determine the direction of the 21st century going forward. Because data is the building block of the modern economy, we need to ensure data protection, cyber security, and the rule of law in cyberspace, to make data interoperable, and to enable data to flow freely across borders.

This is why, at the Tallinn Digital Summit in September, in Estonia introduced Trusted Connectivity as an overarching framework that we currently lack. It unites the various connectivity initiatives —among them the EU–Asia connectivity strategy, the EU’s Global Gateway strategy and the G7-led Build Back Better World. Trusted Connectivity amplifies these important initiatives by rooting them in a common foundation—from vocabulary and interests to values and standards. This provides the basis for us to deliver and promote trustworthy and market-based infrastructure investments.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

let us work together to set the rules and translate words into actions, thereby bridging the digital divide. In some domains, such as cybersecurity, it is well-established that the international law and norms for responsible state behavior also apply in cyberspace. In other domains, we do not yet have such agreements in place. The Trusted Connectivity framework helps us fill this vacuum, optimize our cooperation, and guide us along the path of political and regulatory alignment.

Dear colleagues,

I ask you not to underestimate the power of concerted action. Liberal principles, democratic values, and openness are a time-tested recipe for success having lifted millions out of poverty. At these turbulent times it is imperative we strengthen our cooperation based on these principles.

Thank you!

Photos: https://www.flickr.com/photos/stenbockimaja/sets/72157720173467493/with/51703716676/

Government Communications Unit