TALLINN - Estonian Minister of Defense Juri Luik is attending NATO defense ministers' meetings in Brussels this week, which on Wednesday evening focused on transatlantic relations and global threats.
NATO defense ministers also decided at a meeting in the North Atlantic Council format to pay more attention to developments in the Middle East, as a first step of which the ministers see enhancing the NATO mission in Iraq.
"Estonia supports greater allied presence and expanding the present NATO training mission in Iraq. We are also prepared to seek opportunities for doing more than we have been doing so far," Luik said, adding that the mandate of the mission will also play an important part in its expansion. "Our own contributions to foreign operations have been carefully considered and aligned with our capability, are targeted at ensuring international security and also concern our own security in Estonia," he said.
Luik also met with High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Josep Borrell to discuss latest development in Libya and the Sahel region.
"The participation of our defense personnel in the Operation Barkhane in Mali has been an important choice that has also been clearly noticed by the European Union and that shows that Estonia indeed has a 360-degree view on world security," the minister said. "Sahel, but also Libya and northern Africa more broadly are at present clearly the regions where terrorism is rearing its head the most, and the fact that we have noticed these threats demonstrates that we are a responsible member of the international community."
The defense ministers of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania also signed an accord on continued cooperation in the Baltic Defense College and a readiness declaration with participant states in the UK-led Joint Expeditionary Force (JEF) that commits the JEF to making an enduring and substantial contribution to NATO's Readiness Initiative.
On the sidelines of the meeting, Luik also met with his Greek counterpart, Nikolaos Panagiotopoulos. The two defense ministers discussed cyber security issues and the possible accession of Greece to the French-led European Intervention Initiative (EI2).
NATO defense ministers are to discuss matters relating to the allied deterrence and defense position on Thursday and meet with their Ukrainian counterpart Andriy Zahorodniuk at the initiative of Canada in order to discuss the security situation in the Black Sea region as well as Ukraine's progress regarding its accession program and defense reforms.
Luik is also scheduled to meet with Georgian Minister of Defense Irakli Garibashvili as well as sign an accord on the development of the Multinational Division North.