TALLINN - According to Prime Minister Andrus Ansip, from a security standpoint, Estonia is probably living in its most secure period as a nation. “We are members of both NATO and the European Union, and our economy is becoming increasingly integrated with the rest of the world,” he said.
“We do not have to worry about our security every day. We do not have reason to doubt NATO or the functioning of Article 5,” the prime minister added. According to Ansip, Estonia’s security will also be increased by Estonia’s accession to the eurozone and the OECD. He added that after these accessions, Estonia will be the most integrated country, with the West, in the Baltic Sea Region.
Opening the spring session of the Senior Courses in National Defense, which is being held for the sixth time, the head of government confirmed that defense spending in Estonia must correspond to the assurances that Estonia has made to its NATO partners, which means 2 percent of the country’s GDP. “Currently, the level of Estonia’s defense spending is one of the highest in NATO, but it is still only 1.86 percent of our GDP,” said Ansip.
The prime minister also told the attendees about his recent visit to Afghanistan. Ansip stressed the importance of achieving the co-operation of the local population, as the success of the military operations depends on this. He said that the members of the Estonian Defense Forces will remain in Afghanistan for as long as is necessary, because by defending the security of Afghanistan, Estonian soldiers are also defending security at home.
More than 900 people from various fields of activity have completed the Senior Courses in National Defense, which have been conducted since 1999. The participants in the courses include politicians, government officials, members of the defense forces, businesspeople, journalists, educators, and active people in other spheres of life.
In the course of the six days, the attendees receive a thorough overview of Estonia’s security and defense policy, foreign policy, organization of national defense and its legislative environment, international defense-related co-operation, Estonia’s defense investments, domestic security, and the various spheres of life related to national defense.
Presentations to the attendees were made by Minister of Defense Jaak Aaviksoo, Foreign Minister Urmas Paet, Minister of the Interior Marko Pomerants, Chief of Defense Lieutenant General Ants Laaneots, officials from the Ministries of Defense, Foreign Affairs, and the Interior, and other experts.
On May 16, the prime minister paid a visit to the Spring Storm 2010 military exercises, which was later also visited by the participants taking part in the Courses in National Defense.