The Defence and Security Committee of the NATO Parliamentary Assembly holds a meeting in Estonia, where the security situation in the Baltic Sea Region is discussed at the round table today. Tomorrow, the Committee will visit Ämari Air Base in order to learn about NATO’s deterrence and defence capabilities on the Eastern flank of the Alliance, and observe the training exercises conducted in Estonia within the framework of the international large-scale military exercise Saber Strike.
The round table in the Conference Hall of the Riigikogu (Parliament of Estonia) is opened by Head of the Estonian Delegation to the NATO Parliamentary Assembly (PA) and Vice Chair of the NATO PA Sub-Committee on of Transatlantic Defence and Security Cooperation Marko Mihkelson.
Mihkelson said that meetings held in different countries were an important and valuable part of the work of the NATO PA, because they helped the members of the Assembly to get an overview of what was going on in a particular country or region. “It is important for Estonia that all opportunities were created for the allies to be present here and to come here. And it is important to also show that to the MPs of our allied countries,” Mihkelson emphasised. He added that, during the visit, Estonia’s independent defence capabilities would also be discussed. These capabilities are especially important in the initial stages of a possible crisis.
Minister of Foreign Affairs of Estonia Sven Mikser and Director of the Estonian Foreign Policy Institute Kristi Raik will give the participants of the visit an overview of the general security situation in the Baltic Sea Region. Transatlantic relations before the NATO Summit in Brussels are discussed by Deputy Undersecretary of the Ministry of Defence Kristjan Prikk and Research Fellow at the International Centre for Defence and Security, former Ambassador of Estonia in the USA Eerik Marmei.
Minister of Defence of Estonia Jüri Luik and Chairman of the National Defence Committee of the Riigikogu, member of the Estonian Delegation to the NATO Parliamentary Assembly Hannes Hanso will speak about NATO presence in the Baltic States and Estonia’s national defence goals.
NATO PA Defence and Security Committee will visit the Headquarters of the Estonian Defence Forces and meet with the representatives of the NATO battlegroup in Estonia. Tomorrow, they will go to Ämari Air Base, where they will get information about the Baltic Air Policing Mission coordinated by NATO and meet with the representatives of the aviation group of the French Air Force currently based in Ämari.
At Ämari, the Defence and Security Committee will also observe the Saber Strike training exercises conducted in Estonia. Operation Saber Strike is an annual international exercise held by the United States Army Europe in Poland and the Baltic States. This year, it involves around 18,000 troops. The exercise will last until 15 June. In Estonia, more than 2000 Estonian and allied troops participate in the exercise.
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