Estonian PM: We need to put an end to grey zones to ensure permanent peace in Europe

  • 2023-06-28
  • BNS/TBT Staff

TALLINN – Estonian Prime Minister Kaja Kallas said at a meeting with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg in Brussels on Wednesday that grey zones of security in Europe need to be done away with for permanent peace in Europe and that Ukraine must become a NATO member after the end of the war.

According to Kallas, it is of primary importance for Estonia to ensure that NATO is a credible and strong collective defense organization both today and in the long term.

"We will only achieve this if, as member states, we all make larger and more long-term investments in our defense than before and fulfill the political promises made to Ukraine by agreeing on a specific action plan for Ukraine's NATO membership in Vilnius," she said.

The prime minister added that it is necessary to put an end to grey zones of security in Europe to ensure permanent peace.

"Grey zones are the breeding grounds for instability and wars. It is experience of my own country that NATO membership is the safest, cheapest, and most credible way of deterring Russia. Russia's aggression against Ukraine has also proved this point -- the only thing that can end its cycles of aggressions against its neighbors is NATO membership," Kallas said.

"At the Bucharest summit allies agreed that Ukraine would become a member -- this should not remain a hollow promise. What we need now is to define a practical path to meet this goal. And we need to send a strong message of hope to the Ukrainian soldiers in trenches that with NATO membership on the horizon, they are fighting their last war with Russia," she added.

"Second, we made historic decisions at the Madrid summit -- these were truly significant changes in policy and mindset. Now we need to put it into practice. All allies must continue to invest in security. This will make our transatlantic bond even stronger. By the time allies convene in Washington to celebrate NATO’s 75th anniversary next summer, we Europeans must demonstrate a strategic leap not only in thinking, but also in real deliverables," the prime minister said.

"For that, the defense of NATO’s European allies needs a truly decisive lift. We need to step up combat effectiveness and we need deterrence credible enough to avoid war and stop Russia's cycle of aggressions," Kallas added.

"For that, we need increased defense investment spendings. For credible deterrence and defense it is key to close existing gaps in our capabilities and stockpiles. Our longer-term aim should be 2.5 percent of the GDP. I know from experience how difficult it is for democratically elected leaders to argue for increasing costs. In Estonia, we are increasing defense spending to 3 percent of GDP while my government is raising taxes," she said.

It was also recognized at the meeting that Russia has done everything in its power to prevent the expansion of NATO, but has failed.

"The outcome has been the opposite. Finland has joined the alliance and I hope Sweden is joining soon as well," Kallas said.