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The President of the Republic participated in the UN High-Level Meeting on HIV/AIDS

President Rüütel met with the UN Secretary-General Kofi AnnanPresident Rüütel today in New York delivered a speech at the UN High-Level Meeting on HIV/AIDS, met with the UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan and the Executive Director of UNAIDS Peter Piot.

In his speech, President Rüütel underlined that he is deeply concerned about the spread of AIDS/HIV in Estonia. In the words of the Head of State, he agrees with those who say that AIDS is not just a disease but also a security risk.

"Funding of HIV-related issues has increased several times over the recent years and the number of cooperation partners in prevention has gone up. The Global Fund to fight HIV/AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis has been of major assistance, helping us to take significant steps to limit the spread of the epidemic," The President of the Republic said.

President Rüütel asserted that he considers the current high-level meeting and commitment to finding a common solution to this problem a significant message to the world. “ We realise that no country can win this fight alone, it takes international solidarity to be successful. Estonia as a member of the European Union collaborates with various countries and will accede to all upcoming international joint efforts to prevent HIV,” the Head of Estonian State said.

At the afternoon meeting with the UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan, President Rüütel underlined that Estonia is constantly increasing its contribution to different activities of the UN, among other things to raising awareness about the necessity for HIV prevention work and, for example, contributing also to humanitarian aid or development programs.

The UN Secretary-General thanked Estonia for participating in the work of the UN Central Emergency Response Fund, and also for Estonia’s commitment to allocate a certain fixed percentage of its GDP for development aid. Kofi Annan also noted that the participation of the President of Estonia in the High-Level meeting on HIV/AIDS gives a significant signal to the world that Estonia takes that epidemic very seriously and will be a good example for other EU countries.

President Rüütel confirmed that Estonia, within the framework of the EU neighbourhood Policy, has taken an obligation to give development aid to the countries of the Caucasus region, Moldova and Ukraine. The President of the Republic raised the issue of the indigenous people of Russia and added that to a great extent they lack an opportunity for self-realisation and getting education in their mother tongue.

President Rüütel met with the Executive Director of UNAIDS Peter PiotAt the meeting with the Executive Director of UNAIDS Peter Piot, which was also attended by Assistant Minister of Social Affairs Peeter Laasik, the issues related to the spread of AIDS in Estonia and elsewhere in the European Union were discussed. President Rüütel raised the issue of accessibility of antiretroviral treatment, and pointed out that the price of that therapy is causing serious problems. Executive Director Piot promised to discuss that issue with representatives of pharmaceutical companies and distributors.

In the words of Peter Piot, he is pleased to see that Estonia handles the questions related to AIDS as a priority issue, and he expressed hope that the President of Estonia would stress the importance of that issue also when meeting with his colleagues from other EU countries.

Public Relations Department of the Office of the President
Kadriorg, June 2, 2006

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