TALLINN – Estonian Foreign Minister Eva-Maria Liimets discussed European security with her counterparts from the countries of NATO's eastern flank, France and Ukraine in a virtual meeting on Thursday.
During the meeting of the foreign ministers of the countries of NATO's eastern flank, or Bucharest 9, and France and Ukraine, plans to strengthen NATO's deterrence posture on the eastern flank, matters related to Russia and Ukraine, and preparations for the alliance's summit in Madrid in June were discussed, spokespeople for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Tallinn said.
On the topic of security, the Estonian minister emphasized that alongside actual military capabilities, the most effective deterrent is the unity of the allies and clear messages.
"Together, we must defend our democratic realm of values and make it clear, consistently and with one voice, that we will not compromise on the fundamental principles of our security, such as collective defense or the open door policy," Liimets said. The minister also emphasized that these principles must be central to NATO's next strategic concept.
The participants emphasized that there is no visible desire on the part of Russia to ease tensions, but instead we see an ever increasing concentration of troops around Ukraine.
"Recently, for example, we have witnessed an unprecedented build-up of Russian troops in Belarus. Russia's growing control of Belarus and permanent military presence have a direct impact on the security of both our region and NATO as a whole," Liimets said.
In order to support Ukraine, the Estonian minister stressed the importance of using all diplomatic efforts, the most important of which are continued and strong political support, the readiness to respond to aggression with very comprehensive sanctions, and the continuation of comprehensive practical assistance to Ukraine.
The Bucharest 9 cooperation platform, which got its start in 2015, aims to discuss the common security interests of nine allies -- Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, Romania and Slovakia -- and hold consultations among the partners.
In October 2021, Estonia hosted a meeting of B9 foreign ministers in Tallinn, which was also attended by representatives of the United States and NATO.