TALLINN – During a meeting at the Estonian Ministry of Defense on Thursday, Estonia's Defense Minister Kalle Laanet and his Albanian colleague Niko Pelesh discussed ways to develop defense cooperation between the two countries primarily in the field of military education.
The ministers also talked about the security situation in Estonia's neighborhood and in the Western Balkans and addressed the topics of the upcoming NATO summit, spokespeople for the Estonian ministry said.
"The active involvement of Albanian defense personnel in the NATO battle group in Latvia proves that Albania understands the security threats of our region well, and it also demonstrates a strong desire to contribute to collective defense, which is where the strength of NATO lies," Laanet said.
The ministers discussed ways to enhance cooperation.
"We welcome Albania's interest in our know-how -- we are ready to share with our NATO ally our expertise in areas where Estonia is strong," the minister said.
While the two countries have worked together on military education, with many Albanian defense personnel having studied at the Baltic Defense College in Tartu, the ministers said there is scope for more in-depth work in this area.
"Albanian defense personnel are always welcome in Estonia, both to study and to teach," Laanet said.
The ministers noted that, despite their geographical distance, the allied countries face similar security challenges.
"At the forthcoming NATO summit, it should be stressed that Russia continues to be the greatest military threat to the alliance," Laanet said, adding that Estonia is closely monitoring developments in Belarus, near Ukraine, as well as during the run-up to and during the Zapad 2021 large-scale military exercise of Russia.
Laanet stressed that it's important to approve updated plans for the alliance's deterrence and defense posture at the NATO summit and adopt decisions that will modernize NATO's military structure.
"We need to respond to the changes that affect defense and deterrence activities, so that the NATO principle of collective defense is as effective as possible -- we need to keep up with the times," he said.
Both Estonia and Albania engage in active defense cooperation with the United States. For instance, recently, coordinated exercises, led by the US, took place in both countries as part of the Defender-Europe 2021 series of exercises.
The visit of the Albanian minister of defense also included a trip to the Baltic Defense College in the southern city of Tartu.
On Friday, Pelesh and his delegation will travel to Latvia to visit Albanian troops serving in the NATO battle group in Adazi.