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The delegation of the Riigikogu (Parliament of Estonia) participates in the Spring Session of the NATO Parliamentary Assembly in Tbilisi, Georgia, which lasts until Monday and where issues relating to ensuring global security will be discussed.

Head of the Estonian delegation to the NATO Parliamentary Assembly Marko Mihkelson thinks that holding the Spring Session of the NATO PA in Georgia has a significant meaning. “As we all know, Georgia is not a member of NATO. At the same time it is a country that takes its obligations and commitments seriously as a strong partner,” Mihkelson said. “Therefore it is in every way justified that the Assembly of the Alliance meets in Tbilisi support of Georgia.”

Member of the delegation Hannes Hanso stated that Georgia wanted to become a member of NATO and continued with carrying out the necessary reforms. He added that Estonia supported Georgia’s aspirations.

Hanso said that the level of the defence spending of member states was spoken of at every meeting of the Alliance. He pointed out that only five member states – USA, Greece, United Kingdom, Estonia and Poland – contributed two percent of GDP to defence spending, and added that although others did not meet that requirement yet, efforts were made to achieve the target. “A discussion has started in Estonia whether the two percent level is sufficient in today’s changed security situation, and maybe it should be increased,” Hanso said, and remarked that at present, Estonia is contributing 2.18 percent of GDP to national defence.

Georgia has the status of a NATO partner country, but meets the two percent requirement already now by contributing 2.2 percent of GDP to defence spending. During the meeting in Tbilisi, issues related to Georgia will be discussed in the committees of the NATO PA. The Economics and Security Committee will assess the economic reforms in Georgia; the Political Committee will discuss the foreign and security policy priorities of Georgia. Georgia’s strategies towards occupied regions, development of democracy and rule of law, and advancing stability in the Black Sea region will be spoken about in the Committee on the Civil Dimension of Security.  

Ballistic missile defence, cooperation between NATO and the European Union, and possibilities for improving the defence industries of NATO member states will also be discussed in Tbilisi. Other topics that will be spoken about include the future of European defence research and development, the role of NATO partnership in changed security environment, tackling the challenges from the South, transatlantic relations, the social media revolution and weaponisation, and the impact of climate change on food and water security.

The Internet of things, which has to be taken into account more and more when planning cyber security activities, will also be in focus. There will be separate reports on Russia, Russian military modernisation in the Black Sea region, the humanitarian aspects of the war in Syria and Iraq, and social media.

President of the NATO Parliamentary Assembly Paolo Alli, President of Georgia Giorgi Margvelashvili, Prime Minister of Georgia Giorgi Kvirikashvili, Chairman of the Parliament of Georgia Irakli Kobakhidze and Deputy Secretary General of NATO Rose Gottemoeller will speak at the Plenary Sitting of the NATO Parliamentary Assembly on Monday.

Besides Marko Mihkelson and Hannes Hanso, the Estonian delegation also includes Oudekki Loone and Ants Laaneots.

Riigikogu Press Service
Epp-Mare Kukemelk
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