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The President of the Republic met with Queen Elizabeth II in Scotland

On Tuesday, within the framework of his visit to Scotland, President Arnold Rüütel and Mrs. Ingrid Rüütel met with the Queen of the United Kingdom and Northern Ireland Her Majesty Elizabeth II and with the Scottish First Minister McConnell. On Monday the head of Estonian state visited the Scottish Parliament and met with the Presiding Officer of the Scottish Parliament George Reid.

On Monday morning, President Rüütel met with Honorary Consul for Estonia in Scotland Iain Lawson and other businessmen who are interested in Estonia. At the meeting, the President of the Republic spoke about the Estonian investment climate and the development of IT-sector and energy policy. The Scottish entrepreneurs gave recognition to Estonian taxation policy and expressed interest in the possibilities to open a direct air link between Estonia and Scotland.

President Rüütel visited Edinburgh castle and Glekinchie Whisky Distillery, as well as Stobshiels Mains sheep farm where he was accompanied by Scottish Environment and Rural Development Minister Ross Finnie who gave also an overview of the latest developments in the agricultural sector of Scotland.

Within the framework of her special programme, Mrs. Ingrid Rüütel visited Wishaw Library, where she opened an exhibition of photographs by Endel Grensmann “Bird’s Eye Estonia”. In Glasgow, Mrs Rüütel visited Kelvingrove Art Gallery and met with Mayor of Glasgow Liz Cameron. Mrs. Rüütel visited also National Piping Centre and Royal Academy of Music and Drama (RSAMD) and met there with academics and students.

Monday evening, the Estonian presidential couple visited the modern building of the Scottish Parliament, the architecture of which has won international interest and was designed by a group of Catalan architects led by Enric Mirrales. During the visit to the Parliament, President Rüütel met with MSP Sarah Boyack and discussed renewable energy development trends with her.

The Presiding Officer of the Scottish Parliament George Reid and Mrs. Daphne Reid hosted a dinner in honour of the presidential couple where Reid, a highly recognised Scottish politician who is known to be a committed friend of Estonia, spoke about the Estonian-Scottish relations in the past and today and said that Scots are feeling spiritual closeness with Estonians. In the words of Reid, both people have a parliament and a government that are seriously committed to the development of participation democracy.

During the dinner, the President of the Republic spoke about the ties between Estonia and Scotland, and concluded that there are still many possibilities to advance Estonian-Scottish cooperation. “Mutual visits of the members of the Scottish Parliament and the Riigikogu have been content-rich and have advanced exchange of ideas between politicians that is very much needed in today’s world. We share common challenges that are related to population ageing or preservation of clean natural environment, but also development cooperation with third countries – those are just some examples,” the Estonian head of state said.

The Estonian presidential couple met also with the community of young Estonians in Scotland (MacEstonians) and their leader Pille Petersoo. At the meeting, the head of state was pleased to find that the majority of young people have clear plans to return back to Estonia when they have finished their studies. The message of President Rüütel was that in Estonia there is enough jobs and interesting work for all.

On Tuesday, the President of the Republic and Mrs. Rüütel met with the Scottish First Minister McConnell. At the meeting, President Rüütel spoke about the rapid development of Estonia’s economy and other aspects on the basis of which it is possible to develop further relations between Estonia and Scotland. Minister McConnell introduced the choices of Scotland in advancement of its economy that have already made it possible to achieve unprecedentially low unemployment rate.

Thereafter, the Estonian presidential couple went to the Palace of Holyroodhouse, where Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II received them in audience. Before the audience there was a ceremony performed by Her Majesty’s Guard of Honour. In the words of the President of the Republic the meeting was cordial and carried by earnest interest expressed by the Head of State of the United Kingdom. Instead of planned twenty minutes the Queen’s audience with the Estonian presidential couple lasted fifty minutes.

At the meeting a wide circle of topics concerning bilateral relations between the United Kingdom and Estonia was treated. As it was the first meeting of President Rüütel with Queen Elizabeth II, also historical dimension of the relations between the two countries was touched upon – the assistance of the British Royal Navy to Estonia during the Estonian Liberation War, trade exchange in the period between the two World Wars, non-recognition policy during the occupation, and quick restoration of relations following the restoration of Estonia’s independence. Among today’s topics, cooperation in foreign missions in Afghanistan and Iraq, as well as rapid development of Estonia’s IT-sector and economy in general, and bilateral cultural relations were discussed. The President of the Republic said that the people of Estonia are looking forward to Her Majesty’s visit to Estonia in October with warm and friendly feelings.

The head of state arrived back in Estonia late in the evening on Tuesday.

Public Relations Department of the Office of the President
Kadriorg, July 4, 2006

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