Estonian PM, formin speak to parlt committees about NATO summit

  • 2018-07-14
  • LETA/TBT Staff

TALLINN - Estonian Prime Minister Juri Ratas and Foreign Minister Sven Mikser on Friday offered to members of the Riigikogu foreign affairs committee and national defense committee an overview of the outcomes of the NATO summit in Brussels.

The head of the parliamentary foreign affairs committee, Marko Mihkelson, said that the most important message from the summit was unity of NATO, expressed by the member states in their joint communique which emphasized both addressing the threat picture as well as further developing of the capabilities of the alliance, spokespeople for the Riigikogu said.

Mihkelson said that the question about the amount of money necessary for capability building was up in the air long before the Brussels summit. He said that the member states left Brussels with a readiness to make a greater and knowing contribution to strengthening the defense capability. The question is about the speed at which member states increase their defense spending.

The idea expressed by U.S. President Donald Trump of raising defense expenditures to four percent of GDP is not realistic, however, according to Mihkelson.

"First of all it is necessary to implement the existing consensus on reaching the level of two percent," he said.

Mihkelson said that in the case of Estonia, two percent is the minimum, and this is an understanding shared by all political parties. He said that rather the question is whether some of the parties will highlight during the pre-election campaign the need to raise defense spending to 2.5 percent of GDP.

Also Keit Pentus-Rosimannus, deputy chairman of the foreign affairs committee, said that all member states must fulfill their promise.

"While Estonia is one of the countries that have been contributing more than two percent of their economy to national defense already for some time, in fact it would be necessary that all member states fulfill their obligations," Pentus-Rosimannus said.

Johannes Kert, member of the Riigikogu national defense committee, pointed out in the context if the outcomes of the summit the changes to the NATO command structure, alongside unity of NATO and more equal distribution of the burden of defense spending. From the viewpoint of Estonia, he highlighted the decision to set up a division headquarters that will coordinate the military efforts of the three Baltic countries as important.