TALLINN – In his address at a state dinner in honor of King Carl XVI Gustaf and Queen Silvia of Sweden on Tuesday evening, Estonian President Alar Karis said that Estonia and Sweden will soon be drawing up defense plans together, and the Baltic Sea will become NATO's inland sea.
"Many of our officers and soldiers who served in the early 1990s remember neutral Sweden for the help it provided in supplying Estonia with skis, bicycles, warm uniforms in grey baize and liter-sized tins of pasta with meat for the defense forces. Weaponry followed a little later. We can hope that the Swedish and Estonian armed forces will soon be drawing up our defense plans together. The Baltic Sea is becoming NATO’s inland sea, after all," Karis said.
The president said the best way of ensuring the security of our countries and our people is by working together on every front.
"Inspired by our integration throughout history and on the close relations we enjoy today, Sweden and Estonia can set an example in such cooperation, as partners in the European Union and, hopefully soon, as allies in NATO, defending, supporting and reinforcing democracy, the principles of the rule of law, freedoms and a world based on international law," he said.
Karis stressed that with the same unwavering determination with which Sweden, under Prime Minister Carl Bildt, oversaw the withdrawal of Russian forces from Estonia, we must support Ukraine today in its fight for freedom.
"Only in so doing can we stop Russia’s imperialist war and its barbaric breaches of international law, and bring those responsible to justice," he said.
"We cannot stop caring or allow ourselves to become indifferent to such iniquity, just as your people did not become indifferent to it when they welcomed in Estonians who fled their homeland during the Second World War," the president said.
Karis recalled that in January 1991, at a rally demanding freedom for the Baltic States at Norrmalmstorg in Stockholm, the then Swedish foreign minister said that "what matters to the Baltics matters to Sweden."
"Now we are in a position to say that what matters to Sweden matters to the Baltics. I am talking about our two countries as soon-to-be allies in NATO. Estonia is doing and will continue to do everything within its power to ensure your accession to the alliance. You deserve it, and our security -- the security of Europe -- requires it," he said.
Karis also recalled that during the state visit of the Estonian president to Sweden 12 years ago, a visit in which he was honored to take part, the view from both the eastern and western shores of the Baltic Sea was that we were living in the most peaceful and secure time the world had ever known.
"That has all changed. Russia’s imperialism and colonial ambitions and its brutal military aggression against a peaceful, democratic and sovereign Ukraine represent the most serious threat to world peace and global security since the end of the Second World War. In such a situation it is only logical that Sweden should decide to join NATO," the Estonian president said.