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The meetings that were held during the visit of the National Defence Committee of the Riigikogu (Parliament of Estonia) to Washington focused on the security situation and the enhanced forward presence of the NATO allies in the Baltic Sea Region.

The Estonian delegation met with Senator John Reed and members of the House of Representatives Committee on Armed Services Adam Smith, Mike Conaway, Mike Gallagher, Joe Courtney and Rob Wittman, with whom the security situation in the Baltic Sea Region and in the world was discussed. The role of the USA and the importance of its presence, and the developments in NATO were also spoken about.

It was found at the meetings that the enhanced forward presence of the NATO allies was a strong starting point of the deterrence posture, but presence in air and sea, and the capability to relocate forces had to be reviewed.

Chairman of the Committee Hannes Hanso gave his colleagues an overview of Estonia’s positions regarding the NATO Summit of 2018. Hanso emphasised that Estonia had to continue with its contribution to the development of the alliance and to independent national defence by investing more into national defence.

“It is in the interest of credibility of Estonia to keep the level achieved in defence expenses, although I think that two percent should not be the ceiling of defence expenses, but rather the minimum standard,” Hanso said. He added that this basic level should be increased to add new capabilities.

“The intention of the US to allocate 100 million dollars to increase the defence capabilities of the Baltic States show that the security issues of our region are very well understood in the US,” Hanso said.

Besides the meetings with congressmen, round-table discussions at the think tanks Atlantic Council and Heritage Foundation were held in Washington. There were also meetings with the representatives of the Estonian American National Council and the press. Member of the National Defence Committee Ants Laaneots gave an interview to the Russian-language TV programme of Voice of America.

During the visit, the Chairman of the Committee also met with the representatives of the Caribbean states, with whom he spoke about the Estonian e-state solutions and the possibilities to support the achieving of the UN sustainable development goals through them. “The Caribbean countries have an exceptionally great interest in the Estonian e-state solutions,” Hanso said. “Estonia should vigorously continue with introducing this topic.” Hanso also gave an overview of Estonia’s plans as a candidate for non-permanent membership of the UN Security Council.  

The delegation of the National Defence Committee was in Washington from 27 November to 1 December. The delegation consisted of the Chairman of the Committee Hannes Hanso and members of the Committee Ants Laaneots, Madis Milling and Anneli Ott.

Riigikogu Press Service
Epp-Mare Kukemelk
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