Estonian Presidency of the Council of the EU, March 10 2017
Prime Minister Ratas at the meeting with the Secretary General of NATO: Estonia is a committed ally to NATO
Prime Minister Jüri Ratas met in Brussels with the Secretary General of NATO, Jens Stoltenberg, today, to discuss the deployment of a NATO battle group to Estonia, the meeting of heads of state or government of NATO countries to be held in May 2017, and the current security issues.
According to the Prime Minister, one of the priorities for Estonia as the holder of the next Presidency of the Council of the European Union is strengthening the EU-NATO cooperation.
Talking about the allied forces arriving in Estonia, Ratas said that the purpose of the allied forces in Estonia, Norway, Germany, Turkey and Romania is the protection of people’s wellbeing and way of life. “The presence of NATO troops in the territories of NATO countries is not a threat, but a deterrence,” said Prime Minister Ratas. “This is why there is strong support among the public in Estonia for the presence of UK, French and Danish troops in the territory of Estonia.”
Prime Minister Ratas assured Secretary General Stoltenberg that Estonia stands firm in its commitment to NATO. “Freedom can never be taken for granted and always has a price. Estonia’s defence spending constitutes 2.17% of the GDP. Last week, I made a proposal to Parliament to maintain the target of at least 2% of GDP spending over the next four years. Added to this are the costs of hosting the allied forces and the € 60 million defence investment programme,” explained Ratas.
“The need to support peace and stability outside of the Alliance could not be clearer,” said Ratas, commenting on the major challenges facing NATO. “NATO needs to be ambitious in enhancing its cyber defence capability. It is also essential to continue the fight against terrorism,” stressed Prime Minister Ratas.
According to the Prime Minister, by occupying Crimea and bringing a war to Eastern Ukraine, Russia has undermined European security and violated international law. “We must be open to a dialogue with Russia in the NATO-Russia Council. However, the dialogue must focus on full restoration of the territorial integrity of Ukraine, as well as of Georgia, and Moldova.”