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Asian Tribune is published by World Institute For Asian Studies|Powered by WIAS Vol. 12 No. 2402

Estonian Sri Lankan Confab: Endeavour to build relationship at people to people level

By K.T.Rajasingham

Stockholm,25 January, (Asiantribune.com): An ambitious Estonian VIP of repute - Dr. Kaido Kotkas has shown a keen interest in establishing friendly relationship with Sri Lanka.Dr. Kaido Kotkas of EstoniaDr. Kaido Kotkas of Estonia

Dr. Kaido, a medical doctor and a humanist, who believes in peace and harmony has indicated that he feels that Estonia and Sri Lanka has to establish friendly contacts and hence build bilateral relationship on governmental level.

When speaking to Asian Tribune Dr. Kaido spelled out that the establishment of a friendly relationship between two countries should begin with, 'People to People' contacts, followed by contacts and relationship between corporate bodies of the two countries and to be concluded with the establishment of friendly and bilateral relationship on governmental level.

Estonia is a country in the Baltic region of Northern Europe. The territory of Estonia covers 45,227 km² and is influenced by a temperate seasonal climate.

Estonia is a democratic parliamentary republic and is divided into fifteen counties. The capital and largest city is Tallinn. With a population of only 1.4 million, it is one of the least-populous members of the European Union.

Estonia regained its independence on 20 August 1991 from the former Soviet Union and It has since embarked on a rapid program of social and economic reform. Today, the country has gained recognition for its economic freedom, its adaptation of new technologies and as one of the world's fastest growing economies.

Given below the full text of the interview Asian Tribune had with Dr. Kaido Kotkas of Estonia:

Asian Tribune: We learnt that you are interested in looking towards Asia and in that process looking at strategically located Sri Lanka to begin a longstanding relationship?

Dr. Kaido Kotkas: Yes of course…. I think as an initial step, to know better each other in terms of the country and the people, we have to establish some kind of relationship since we are not neighbors.

Sri Lankans people , in fact lot of them, don’t know much about Estonia and the majority of the Estonians do not know anything about Sri Lanka, either. To know each other and to establish acquaintances, at least we have to start a process of communication, establish contacts, visit and become friends. It is nice to visit as friends. It is nice to invite each other as friends and ask them to come down to play some tennis or badminton or to have some lunch or dinner together. After establishing some form of a mutual understanding, after exploring some form of commonness between us and by then we will have some common topics to talk about.

I think between countries we have to have some common mutual interests and then we may have reason to talk about and we would have the need to visit each other. It is what I thought about starting good relationship between countries and people.

Asian Tribune: Sri Lanka is a country centrally located in Asia. Estonia can establish relationship with Sri Lanka then that would amounts to you establishing relationship with whole of Asia?

Dr. Kaido Kotkas: Yes, I don’t know why there does not exist a relationship between Estonia and Sri Lanka? I cannot see any reason why we do not know each other better. I have lot of good Sri Lankans as my friends, but unfortunately, I think many Estonian people do not have friends from Sri Lanka,or any other countries located in South Asia. India of course is a big country, a subcontinent, and many of our people visit India.

However, Sri Lanka is very close to India and sandwiched between Maldives and India. I now begin to wonder, so far why we are not in touch with Sri Lanka.

Asian Tribune : Though we have diplomatic relationship, but in a very dormant state and our international relationship is yet to take off. In fact so far we have not started the people to people contact.

You will be the pioneer. You will be the first person to create the people to people contact between Sri Lanka and Estonia.

Dr. Kaido Kotkas: I think it is easier like that. I have some good Sri Lankan friends. I think I know more Sri Lankans people than other Estonians do.

Secondly, we have to organize that kind of relationship between companies and then between countries, on a Presidential level.

First of all it is important to establish a people to people relationship.

Asian Tribune: ‘Building Bridges’ between the people of both countries, in fact friendship bridges.

Dr. Kaido Kotkas: Yes, definitely. That is what I told that we must begin establishing people to people contact.

Asian Tribune: Elaborate in what way you are proposing to build this bridge?

Dr. Kaido Kotkas: Yes, first of all I think what is important is to start organizing visits to Sri Lanka and Estonia. That is Sri Lankan people visiting Estonia and vice versa. It might be the easiest way.

In the meantime, Sri Lankan corporate organizations can begin visiting Estonian corporate bodies and Estonian business organizations and entrepreneurs can visit Sri Lankan companies and could look for investment opportunity. The main tasks are to do something together and in the meantime at the governmental level leaders and Heads States can begin visiting and talk about establishing good, friendly relationship, establishing cultural ties, negotiating bilateral agreements to foster good relationship between the two countries.

To establish relationship between Sri Lanka and Estonia on a strong basis, we must make sure that we establish relationship by –

1. Building bridges between the people of both countries.

2. Establishing business opportunities between the corporate bodies of both countries.

3. And establishing friendly and bilateral relationship on governmental level.

Asian Tribune: You mean to say on people level, business level and governmental level?

Dr. Kaido Kotkas: Yes, the easiest way is by establishing relationship on people level and make people visit, meet people and create a friendly atmosphere to establish relationship at a grassroots level. I think In Estonia, we are right in the winter season and the whole landscape is covered with snow. The Estonian people are looking for opportunity to go somewhere that is warm, lush and beautiful and I think Sri Lanka could be our best tourist destination.

Asian Tribune: Sri Lanka is an Island nation, surrounded by sea. People in Estonians will be amazed seeing a beautiful country located in the midst of the Indian Ocean?

Dr. Kaido Kotkas: I am sure that Sri Lanka is a beautiful tourist destination and people are friendly, sociable and kind.

Though I have so far not visited Sri Lanka, but I have read a lot and seen pictures and heard from my Sri Lankan friends and Sri Lanka indeed looks like an amazing country.

Asian Tribune: Do you have any business proposal and investing in Sri Lanka?

Dr. Kaido Kotkas: Listen, I am a medical doctor and I have a degree in business administration, MBA of course. I was working in a hospital called West Tallin Central hospital. There are about 1000 beds and 2000 workers with lot of doctors and paramedics. I was the CEO, as well as the administrator…

Asian Tribune: This hospital belongs to?

Dr. Kaido Kotkas: It belongs to the city of Tallinn and it is a government hospital. We brought under one administration nearly 6 to 7 other hospitals.

Asian Tribune: So all those hospitals were different units, and are located separately in separate locations?

Dr. Kaido Kotkas: They all are located within a distance of 30 km radius. Of course what I think that Sri Lanka Health sector need is such knowledge or advice of working medical hospitals for the people of the country. I am willing to provide it.

Asian Tribune: Your hospitals are digitalized?

Dr. Kaido Kotkas: Yes of course: In the first place I am interested in the sanitation of hospitals and the use of disinfectant.

Asian Tribune: Yes initially you told me that you are interested in building a factory to produce all kind of disinfectants needed for hospitals?

Dr. Kaido Kotkas: Yes, a factory that will produce the needed disinfectants for the hospitals in Sri Lanka.

Asian Tribune: What are the things you will be producing there?

Dr. Kaido Kotkas: We could produce all those items need for the sanitation of a hospital.

Asian Tribune: Are you producing them in Estonia?

Dr. Kaido Kotkas: Yes, almost all the disinfectant items needed for the hospitals are manufactured in Estonia. Those foot sprays which we sent to the Sri Lankan armed forces too are produced in Estonia. When we establish a factory, we can produce the necessary disinfectant need for the general public, as well as for the hospitals.

Asian Tribune: So you want to build a factory in Sri Lanka, to produce all types disinfectants?

Dr. Kaido Kotkas: Yes, and I trust that this would interest the people of Sri Lanka.

Asian Tribune: How much money will be needed to start this project?

Dr. Kaido Kotkas: I think to build up that kind of a factory, it needs approximately around 1.5 million Euros. We have to work out the actual capital needed to invest.

Asian Tribune: What about the buildings to house the proposed factory?

Dr. Kaido Kotkas: Building and land will cost …most important is that Sri Lankan government needs this kind of things for the people’s sanitation. Maybe you already have this?

Asian Tribune: I am not aware of it, maybe we have, but it won’t be a fully fledged factory producing all the disinfectants need for a hospital.

Dr. Kaido Kotkas: It is a very good thing to keep away infection from hospital; this might be one project we will like to work in Sri Lanka.

Asian Tribune: This is a project that will be completely invested by you and Estonian people?

Dr. Kaido Kotkas: Yes, but if we find any Sri Lankan interested, then it will be a partnership. The ownership is not important. The important point is that there is a factory of this nature existing in Sri Lanka and we can agree different ways as to how to build it up. Then we can discuss finer details later.

Asian Tribune: What are the things that Estonia can give to Sri Lanka?

Dr. Kaido Kotkas: Information Technology (IT) knowledge. Estonia has the so called e- government. In Estonia we are avoiding using paper. It is a much closed system and everything is in computer and everything being discussed through the computer and they are not using papers. Of course in hospital it will be computerized and also all the medical data is computerized and X-ray data are in digital mode and it is possible to relay the data abroad and Doctors from another country can see and analyze it and send back their advises regarding the treatment to a patient.

Asian Tribune: Other than providing e- government details and how to go about establishing it, what else can Estonia provide?

Dr. Kaido Kotkas: I think next one is tourism and it is important for the first time to know each other and visit each other. Next is in the infrastructure field, mainly in the building industry.

Asian Tribune: Do you have building companies which are in a position to build prefabricated concrete houses?

Dr. Kaido Kotkas: Yes. We have companies with international standard.

Asian Tribune: Are they interested in building houses in Sri Lanka under BOT - Build operation and transfer?

Dr. Kaido Kotkas: Yes, I think so. We can discuss the terms and conditions if there is an inquiry forthcoming for the same.

Asian Tribune: We learnt that Sri Lanka government is interested in building houses, as it has become an important element after the war to resettle internally displaced civilians.

Tell us if in case Sri Lanka needs such companies to build houses urgently required, will companies in Estonia come forward?

Dr. Kaido Kotkas: Yes, it is possible to do so. We have a good knowledge about building. We have lot of international Estonian companies that are building all over the world.

Asian Tribune: What are the goods you are exporting?

Dr. Kaido Kotkas: Cement, limestone ….

Asian Tribune: Cement made out of what?

Dr. Kaido Kotkas: Clay and of international standard.

Asian Tribune: Sri Lanka needs lot of cement. We had a cement factory in the north and though at present the area is under the control of government, unfortunately it is not functioning.

Dr. Kaido Kotkas: Yes, we have very good knowledge about Cement production and we can provide it to Sri Lanka.

Asian Tribune: What else?

Dr. Kaido Kotkas: Yes, dairy farming.

Asian Tribune: Last time when I met R.M.C.B. Ratnayake, Sri Lanka’s Minister in charge of Livestock Development, he said that he is looking to set up a modern dairy farm in the country.

Dr. Kaido Kotkas: We can provide the knowhow and we are ready to help in establishing a modern dairy farm in Sri Lanka.

We are one of the leaders in dairy farm.

I have a good friend and he is a specialist in the dairy farming.

He is also a veterinary qualified person involved in the diary business. He has some cow breeds which give high yield and he has cows that milk 10,000 liters per year.

Asian Tribune: How is it possible?

Asian Tribune: He has special food for milking cows and as he is a veterinarian and knows the right proportion of food for the cow.

Asian Tribune: One day how many liters?

Dr. Kaido Kotkas: 27 liter per day he has some cows, which give more than 20,000 to 25,000 liter per year as well.

Asian Tribune: Are those cows his own breed?

Dr. Kaido Kotkas: Yes

Asian Tribune: Our Minister of Livestock Development is interested in setting up a modern dairy farm in Sri Lanka.

Dr. Kaido Kotkas: Estonia has very good knowledge in this area. We are ready to help in such dairy farming ventures
Asian Tribune: You have any other things to export?

Dr. Kaido Kotkas: Estonia is a small but active country.We can utilize our expertise on e-governance, construction and farming.

Asian Tribune: Do Estonians drink lot of tea?

Dr. Kaido Kotkas: yes, we are drinking lot of coffee and tea.

Asian Tribune: Where are you getting tea from?

Dr. Kaido Kotkas: We are getting it from Sri Lanka, India, and China and also probably from some countries in Africa too.

Asian Tribune: What about rubber?

Dr. Kaido Kotkas: We had some rubber based industrial units, but I am not sure how much rubber we are using at the moment.

Asian Tribune: We are exporting lot of rubber and spices.

Dr. Kaido Kotkas: Yes, Estonians love spices.

Asian Tribune: In the early part of the 16th century, Sri Lanka was captured by Portuguese and subsequently Hollanders for our spices. We are famous for spices in the East.

Dr. Kaido Kotkas: For we Estonians spices are very important in our food

Asian Tribune: Do you like to visit Sri Lanka?

Dr. Kaido Kotkas: I think it is important that I visit Sri Lanka and explore what we can do in Sri Lanka. I can find some time to visit soon Sri Lank. I will visit Sri Lanka to build bridges. I trust that our government leaders also would also establish good friendly relationship between our both countries in the near future.

- Asian Tribune -

Also Read:

2. Foot Spray to Sri Lankan soldiers airlifted- thanks to an Estonian generosity

1. A Peace Dove From Yonder Estonia

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