TALLINN, Apr 04, BNS - Estonia welcomed on Tuesday the historic moment of Finland becoming a member of NATO.
Prime Minister Kaja Kallas said that Finland's accession to NATO is a historic moment for our northern neighbors, the Baltic Sea region, and NATO more broadly.
"This is an important day for Estonia as well. Estonia and Finland have always been close friends, now we are also allies in NATO. This will strengthen both our common security and the security of the entire Euro-Atlantic region," said Kallas. "Finland's membership in NATO also means that we will have new opportunities to deepen our bilateral defense cooperation. Cooperation between Estonia and Finland is closer than ever before."
Kallas said that Russia is the greatest threat to NATO, and we must prepare for an long confrontation.
"Over the past year, NATO has taken substantial steps to adapt to the new security situation and reinforce the security of allies. Finland's accession and NATO enlargement also demonstrate that the alliance is playing a key role in ensuring Euro-Atlantic security,” she said.
The prime minister also said that after Finland and Sweden received invitations to join NATO, the ratification process has proceeded rapidly.
"I hope that Sweden's accession process will also move forward quickly and we can soon welcome Sweden as a member of NATO," she said.
“Estonia's national defense stands on three strong pillars -- the defense resolve of our people, our state's defense capability and our secure place under the NATO umbrella. And this common NATO umbrella is stronger and more united than ever. Today's NATO Day is made all the more special by the fact that we can welcome a new and -- for us -- a very special member state into NATO -- our good friend and northern neighbor Finland," Minister of Defense Hanno Pevkur said.
"The past has not allowed Estonia and Finland to fight shoulder to shoulder as states but now this moment has arrived and this is why today is particularly close to our heart," Foreign Minister Urmas Reinsalu said.
"NATO enlargement is a historic success story. Since 1949, 19 countries have joined the alliance. This has reinforced the alliance, ensured security for millions of European citizens and contributed to peace and stability in the Euro-Atlantic region. NATO's door remains open to all democracies of Europe who share the alliance’s values, and have the desire and ability to meet the responsibilities that membership entails, and who would contribute to our common security as members," Reinsalu added.
This evening after sunset, Stenbock House will display the Finnish flag on its facade to welcome Finland's accession into NATO. Photos of the milestone events of the bilateral relations of Estonia and Finland through the years will also be projected on the building.
Finland is joining NATO on a symbolic day -- April 4 is celebrated as NATO Day in member states every year. 74 years ago today, the North Atlantic Treaty or Washington Treaty was signed, establishing the North Atlantic Treaty Organization.
The Estonian Atlantic Treaty Association and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs are holding a webinar titled "Estonia and Allies" as part of NATO Day. Jonatan Vseviov, secretary general of the Foreign Ministry and member of the Estonian North Atlantic Association, will speak at the webinar.