At the meeting with Chief of the Defence Staff of France General Pierre de Villiers, Chairman of the National Defence Committee of the Riigikogu (Parliament of Estonia) Marko Mihkelson emphasised the importance of the allies having a common understanding of threats and acting in unanimity in ensuring the security of the north-eastern region of NATO.
“It is clear that the challenges that concern our region and NATO are long-term, and they should be responded to with lasting, long-term solutions,” Mihkelson stated.
In Mihkelson’s opinion, good relations with Russia are more important to Estonia and other Baltic States than to any other NATO member state, and therefore Estonia supports all measures that help ground the tensions and enable actual dialogue. “It should be our goal that like NATO member states, Russia would also observe the fundamental principles of international law,” Mihkelson noted.
Mihkelson expressed the hope that the decisions the NATO ministers of defence recently passed would be approved at the NATO Warsaw Summit. He thought it was necessary in order to make Russia respect international law and the obligations it has taken.
“Sending of battalion-size units to the Baltic region and Poland is a significant step toward creating stability and predictable strategic balance here in the north-eastern corner of NATO,” Mihkelson said. “All analyses show that the presence of combat-capable units in our territory is important.”
“It is essential that the steps which are taken to increase deterrence in the region would also correspond to the strategic interests of the Alliance and were made in unanimity,” Mihkelson said. In his opinion it would be of great significance that the allies expressed their solidarity and unity at the NATO Summit.
Mihkelson considered the decisions of the upcoming NATO Summit the most important in the post-Cold War period from the standpoint of security. “These are the steps that enable to resist threats and ground the tensions,” he added.
Mihkelson thanked France for their contribution to Baltic air policing, which according to him is a NATO deterrence measure that has been the most visible to public throughout times. He expressed the hope that besides Šiauliai, the French air force units would also serve at Ämari.
Mihkelson also emphasised the prevailing consensus in the work of the National Defence Committee, and said that keeping defence expenses at 2 percent of GDP was not an object of dispute. “The Committee has a clear understanding of the general security situation and the steps that have to be taken in the present times,” he said.
The Chief of the Defence Staff of France confirmed that a company from his country would take part in ensuring the security of the Baltic region. The participation will be finally confirmed at the Warsaw Summit.
The General said that Estonia is a good example to other members of the Alliance in keeping the defence expenses at two percent of GDP. He also expressed satisfaction over the cooperation with the Estonian Defence Forces in Mali and the Central African Republic.
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