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European defense efforts too lax, says Ansip

Dec 21, 2013
From wire reports, TALLINN

Estonian Prime Minister Andrus Ansip emphasized at the European Council debate on defense and security matters, which began on Thursday, Dec. 19 in Brussels, that European Union member states must take the development of common defense more seriously, reports LETA. In his speech, he called on countries to increase their defense budgets.

“Decreasing defense expenditures are directly affecting the ability of European countries to operate,” Prime Minister Ansip said at the meeting of European Union heads of government and heads of state. “The principle of ‘less is more’ does not apply to the field of defense,” he added.

The prime minister remarked, however, that the meeting would send a message to allies across the Atlantic, and European Union member states should commit to investing more in common security. Estonia considers it important that defense expenditures would also indirectly influence the economy and the development of the defense industry, which in turn shapes the European Union’s position in the world.

Additionally, Prime Minister Ansip drew attention to the need for greater cooperation between member states. “Working together creates new opportunities in conditions of limited resources,” he said.

As an example for his colleagues, the prime minister cited Baltic and Nordic cooperation in joint procurement and in the development of defense forces. “Estonia has made successful joint procurements with the Finns and the Swedes, which has given us the opportunity to cover similar needs at a more reasonable price,” Ansip said.

Additionally, the he expressed his appreciation that the European Union has begun to pay more attention to cyber defense. Ansip called on member states to carry out joint exercises and training, also involving NATO. Based on Estonia’s proposal, the common need for cyber security training has also been outlined in the Council’s conclusions.

Also, NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen participated in the Council meeting to emphasize that the development of a greater commitment to defense will, in turn, strengthen NATO.

Common security and defense policy is on the Council’s agenda again in 2015. At that time, an assessment of the current implementation of the Council’s decisions and the planning of further steps to strengthen European defense will take place.

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