TALLINN - Marko Mihkelson, the chairman of the Estonian delegation to the NATO Parliamentary Assembly (NATO PA), and a member of the delegation, Hannes Hanso, are to attend the Transatlantic Forum in Washington from Monday to Wednesday where the positions of the United States regarding the main challenges NATO is facing will be discussed.
According to Mihkelson, the Washington meeting is important because it enables to map the present situation together with the allies and plan future actions, spokespeople for the Estonian parliament said. "The world is changing a lot and it is important that we conform to it and sense with our allies how we can protect our world in the best possible way," Mihkelson said.
According to Hanso, the allies' defense expenditure level, or the countries' obligation to contribute at least 2 percent of GDP to their defense budgets, will also definitely be talked about at the forum. Although Estonia is meeting this goal, the level of defense expenditure should be raised and the new goal should be 2.5 percent of GDP, he added.
"If we want to develop armored maneuverability or medium range air defense, we have to recognize that a country of Estonia's size will not be able to do that for 2 percent," Hanso said. "I believe that the basic level of defense spending has to be raised. Today we compensate for the absence of these capabilities with the presence of allies," he added.
Among other topics to be discussed at the meeting are the changing situation in Middle East and the Korean Peninsula, Hanso said. "It would be naive to think that these events won't affect our security. We must constantly keep our region's topics at the center of the allies' attention," he added.