Estonian formin: NATO must remain mainstay of Europe's collective defense

  • 2021-03-23
  • BNS/TBT Staff

TALLINN – Estonian Foreign Minister Eva-Maria Liimets said at a meeting of NATO foreign ministers on Tuesday that NATO is strong and must remain the mainstay of Europe's collective defense as it adapts to new threats.

Liimets is participating in a meeting of NATO foreign ministers on Tuesday and Wednesday, spokespeople for the ministry said. On Tuesday, the ministers discussed themes concerning the threats regarding Afghanistan and the south direction and the NATO secretary general's "NATO 3030" proposals for the future. This is the first time that Secretary of State Antony Blinken of the new United States administration is attending a meeting of NATO foreign ministers.

At the first meeting, ministers discussed the threats regarding Afghanistan and the south -- the Middle East and North Africa and the Sahel region. According to Liimets, decisions about Afghanistan and the future of the NATO training mission are difficult. "Allied presence and diplomatic steps must contribute to the Afghan peace process. We support the U.S. and other allies' initiatives for peace talks," she said.

"We are concerned about the security situation in Afghanistan, especially the targeted attacks on civilians -- officials, media workers, human rights defenders, including women in key positions. That is why it is important for us to participate in NATO missions in Afghanistan, as well as in Iraq and elsewhere in the world, where we, together with our allies, defend the security and stability of the Euro-Atlantic area. The security of NATO's neighbors also supports our own security," Liimets said.

In the second half of the day, the foreign ministers discussed the future of NATO. "The alliance is strong and must remain a mainstay of Europe's collective defense as it adapts to new threats. Secretary General [Jens] Stoltenberg recently made his recommendations for shaping NATO's future, which are certainly bold and stimulate debate. Among the new goals, we want to further develop proposals concerning collective resilience, in-depth political consultations, more efficient decision-making, new technologies and the impact of climate change on security," Liimets said. "We also have to deal with the complex issues that come with China's strong rise and the violation of international norms."

"I consider it very important to strengthen cooperation between NATO and the European Union, as well as to involve other partners. NATO's open door policy must also continue, which is an important incentive for the continuation of democratic processes in countries aspiring to become members, "Liimets added.

On Wednesday, NATO foreign ministers will discuss Russia and regional security. The meeting will also be attended by the Swedish and Finnish foreign ministers and the High Representative of the European Union Josep Borrell.

After the meeting, Estonian Foreign Minister Eva-Maria Liimets, Latvian Foreign Minister Edgars Rinkevics and Lithuanian Foreign Minister Gabrielius Landsbergis will meet with U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken.