TALLINN - Estonia has ceased to be a golden boy in NATO when it comes to defense expenditure, because in absolute terms the country's defense expenditures are really small despite being above the limit of 2 percent of gross domestic product, Postimees reported.
It said that member states' defense expenditures were subjected to an in-depth scrutiny during a hearing behind the closed doors of NATO last year.
"Last year was the first time that we were no longer the darling. We were told that we are a country on the border, this two percent no longer sells, your absolute amounts are ridiculous," Meelis Oidsalu, deputy secretary general for defense planning at the Estonian Ministry of Defense, told the newspaper.
The voice of the high-ranking state official is calm. Just like the NATO rapporteurs who evaluated Estonia, he is not someone who engages in politics. He understands it that the courtesy of fellow alliance members had its inertia, and for Estonia it ran out last year. Oidsalu doesn't say that Estonia should start running somewhere head over heels, but he does feel concern, Postimees said.
It said that with a defense budget equaling 2.5-percent of GDP, theoretically, the country would be able to acquire medium-range air defense equipment and tanks by 2026. Yet the standing costs that these new capabilities would entail would require a new hike in the level of defense spending in the next decade.
The political parties questioned by Postimees on the prospect of an increase in defense spending rather were skeptical, citing shortage of information.