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The President of the Republic spoke to Geneva summit

President Rüütel today addressed the World Summit on the Information Society in Geneva. The President of the Republic in his address spoke about Estonia's experience in building Information Society and possibilities to share it with other countries.

According to the President of the Republic, Information Society development was the call of the day but also a global, national and individual challenge. "In order to ensure economic growth, competitiveness and - most importantly - an increase in the quality of lives of our people - it is essential for governments to keep Information Society development constantly high on the agenda," President Rüütel said.

The Estonian Head of State also brought out the factors, which had enabled such a small country with limited resources like Estonia to achieve success. "Creating an enabling environment, opening markets, including all stakeholders and prioritising ICT in education have been the steps producing results. Perhaps the most important factor for ICT development has been the liberalisation of the telecommunications market," President Rüütel explained.

The President of the Republic in his talk further gave an overview of the Estonian E-Governance Academy, the exhibition stand of which he had visited this morning on the ICT4D Platform taking place in the framework of the summit. The academy combines the practical knowledge and experience of the Estonian public sector as well as the know-how of the European Union experts with the experience of the target countries participating in the training.

President Rüütel today also met with the President of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Boris Trajkovski, who showed vivid interest in the development of bilateral cooperation in several areas. President Trajkovski spoke about Macedonia's activities in promoting economy and also about its aspirations to join the European Union and NATO. President Rüütel expressed Estonia's support for these aspirations and announced Estonia's willingness to share its relevant experience with countries of the Balkan region too. The Presidents agreed that possibilities for cooperation existed also in other areas, like, for instance, in education, culture and reforming legal system.

In the afternoon, the President of the Republic accompanied by Ambassador Clyde Kull and Mait Heidelberg, Adviser at the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Communications, took part in the roundtable "Information and Communication Technology as a Tool to Achieve the Millenium Development Goals". The roundtable attendees talked about how important it was for the purpose of building Information Society that at the state level were created models conducive to the emergence of a fertile ground at the citizens' level, which would generate ideas contributing to the development of Information Society. The roundtable expanded on the importance of all-round use of IT tools in educational establishments.

High-ranking representatives of the United Nations Development Programme and the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe highlighted Estonia as a development model setting for other countries an example in the field of information and communication technology. "If the Internet were a state, its name would be Estonia," said UNDP Administrator Mark Malloch Brown who moderated at the roundtable.

Public Relations Unit of the Office of the President
Kadriorg, December 11, 2003

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