TALLINN – Riho Terras, member of the European Parliament and former commander of the Estonian defense forces, said in a five-minute interview with German broadcaster ZDF that a military aggression against Ukraine once seemed as unlikely as Putin's decision to attack the Baltics might seem.
"To make everything clear at the outset, the last thing we might need is a new war in Europe," Christian Sievers, moderator of ZDF's "heute journal," said in his introduction to the interview conducted in German.
"One should be very careful with the word 'war' as such. Those, however, who now feel threatened by it: Ukraine and the Baltic states -- our partners in the EU and NATO -- use the word quite deliberately. And this must not leave us cold," Sievers said.
CAN YOU TELL US HOW THE PEOPLE OF ESTONIA VIEW THE CURRENT SITUATION?
Of course, with great concern. Russia's demands must be believed. In Europe and in politics, we find all this hard to believe, but Russia has been saying over and again since 2007 that they want to change the way Europe is structured and go back to 1997. This is of great concern to us both in Estonia and throughout Eastern Europe.
YOU TALK ABOUT PUTIN'S ACTIONS AS A _FINAL WAKE UP CALL_. DO YOU FEEL THAT EUROPE HAS BEEN SHAKEN AWAKE?
I believe that the first alarm clocks have already been slammed off -- Georgia, for example; but also the annexation of Crimea, and Ukraine, in 2014. We did realize that something was wrong, and we saw that Russia was prepared to use military force to achieve its political goals. But we did not really get it that Russia wants more.
THE COMMANDER OF THE RUSSIAN ARMED FORCES HAS SAID THAT SINCE 1945, EUROPE HAS NOT STOOD AS CLOSE TO THE OUTBREAK OF WAR AS IT IS TODAY. WOULDN'T A WAR AGAINST THE BALTIC STATES BE MADNESS EVEN FOR PUTIN?
It is definitely madness. It seemed just as insane that Putin would attack Ukraine. And if we now think about whether there can be a war, there is a war in Ukraine every day and people are dying every day. We do not fear that this will now somehow spill over to the Baltics, since we are part of the European Union and NATO. However, if we are to be sure that nothing will happen here, we must show unity. In NATO and in the European Union, we have to show that we do mean what we say, and I think we have succeeded quite well so far.
WHAT EXACTLY DOES IT MEAN, "MEAN WHAT WE SAY"? I AM ASKING THIS SPECIFICALLY IN RELATION TO GERMANY AND THE GERMAN GOVERNMENT; WHAT DO YOU EXPECT FROM CHANCELLOR OLAF SCHOLZ?
I expect an active Germany, a self-aware Germany, which as the largest country in Europe would lead us into a dialogue with Russia. But not only that, but also, if necessary, a readiness for deterrence and the use of military means if it goes that far. We must show that we are prepared to act both economically and militarily. And...
... EXCUSE ME FOR THE INTERJECTION, BUT WHAT DO YOU MEAN BY IT THAT GERMANY SHOULD USE MILITARY MEANS IF IT GOES THAT FAR. WHAT DO YOU MEAN BY THAT? THE INVOLVEMENT OF THE BUNDESWEHR?
In Lithuania, the Bundeswehr is already there. This means that, if the situation requires, military support for Eastern European countries is possible. However, what I also consider to be very important is that Germany should stand up for the great powers not to divide Europe among themselves without involving smaller countries, but that we can always agree that we negotiate with each other and act in one accord. This is very important for us small countries in the Baltics.
NOW WE ALSO HAVE A GAS PIPELINE ON THE TABLE -- THE ALARMING NORD STREAM 2. THE GERMAN GOVERNMENT AND ALSO THE CHANCELLOR SAY THAT IT IS A PRIVATE BUSINESS PROJECT. "EVERYTHING IS APOLITICAL," SAYS OLAV SCHOLZ. IT DOES NOT SOUND AT ALL LIKE THIS COULD GIVE RISE TO POSSIBLE SANCTIONS AGAINST RUSSIA. WHAT DO YOU HAVE TO SAY ABOUT THAT?
When you see people's gas bills -- in Germany too, but certainly in Estonia and everywhere else -- you will also see that Russia is using gas as a means to achieve an objective. Gas prices are high only because Russia has turned off the taps. This means that it is not politically logical to make oneself dependent on Russian gas. Nord Stream 1 and 2 are therefore very bad. And also because Ukraine is being bypassed.
The interview with ZDF can be viewed at www.zdf.de/nachrichten/heute-journal/ein-weckruf-fuer-europa-100.html