Estonian president calls for permanent NATO presence

  • 2015-04-15
  • from wire reports and TBT staff, TALLINN

During a meeting with Germany's Minister of Defence, the Estonian President Toomas Hendrik Ilves discussed the current security situation in Europe, and called for NATO to establish a permanent presence in the Baltic States, the president's office reports.

Ilves said that despite the increasing attention on the possibility of hybrid war being directed against the Baltic States, traditional deterrence, which has been one of the foundations of NATO's credibility for decades, is still important.

He stressed that even though NATO's collective military power clearly exceeds that of Russia, there are now clearly a greater number of Russian armed units in the Baltic Sea area, which is why it is important for the allies to increase their presence in this region.

According to President Ilves, the formulation of the 1997 Founding Act of NATO and Russia, in which NATO reiterated that. bearing in mind the contemporary and foreseeable security environment, the Alliance would not station additional permanent, substantial combat forces in member states, should be looked at in the context of its time. In 2015, he said, an agreement made in 1997 cannot be an obstacle for the stationing of permanent deterrence units in NATO member states.

"Russia's own actions in Ukraine since early last year have stripped the NATO-Russia Founding Act of its former meaning," the Estonian head of state said.

At the meeting with the German Minister of Defence, the decision-making processes of Russian armed forces and the speed of deploying units were discussed.

"In the past year, we have noted on several occasions that it takes about four hours from the Russian strategic leadership making a decision to carry out a flash exercise to troops beginning to move on a tactical level," President Ilves described. "This, of course, does not mean the invasion of a NATO ally, but it demonstrates that the speed of decision-making and actual movements today has become a question of mere hours, and does not require the amassing of troops on a border for a lengthy period of time."

The Estonian head of state and the German Minister of Defence also discussed the importance of strategic communication in standing up for European values and the idea of creating an EU army.