Outgoing Estonian Defense Minister Urmas Reinsalu sent a letter on Wednesday, March 26, to his Latvian and Lithuanian colleagues, calling on them to raise their defense budgets to two percent of gross domestic product (GDP) to show that they have a serious attitude towards national defense, reports the on-line edition of Estonia's Postimees newspaper.
In the letter sent to Latvian Defense Minister Raimonds Vejonis and Lithuanian Defense Minister Juozas Olekas, Reinsalu points out that the unity of the Baltic Statesin NATO and the European Union is extremely important and generally Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania have spoken in one voice and strengthened each other's positions.
"A common understanding of the security situation of our region has guaranteed that our main values and ambitions stay compatible," wrote Reinsalu.
Reinsalu wrote that the Ukrainian crisis and recent military demonstrations near Baltic borders show that security cannot be taken for granted. "History has proven convincingly that sudden changes in the geopolitical landscape require extreme alertness, unity and sight into the future," he writes.
Reinsalu noted that the new Estonian government has promised to preserve defense expenditures at 2 percent of GDP.
"Knowing and understanding the political choices and domestic challenges of your countries, I still call on you to look for a possibility to increase your defense budgets. Low contribution to state defense directly affects the security of our region and reduces our voice and influence within NATO,'' he said.
''Since NATO is hopefully increasing attention to collective defense, we have to send a strong signal that we have a more serious attitude towards national defense than several other states," wrote Reinsalu.