On Tuesday 10 March, at the meeting of the foreign ministers of NATO’s eastern flank, the Bucharest 9 (B9) in Vilnius, Foreign Minister Urmas Reinsalu emphasised that transatlantic ties with the United States were crucial for ensuring Europe’s security.
“The United States is the largest partner of NATO and contributes the most financially,” Reinsalu said. He thanked the United States for sending its representative to the B9 meeting. “This signifies solid support to the countries of NATO’s eastern flank,” Reinsalu noted.
One of the subjects under discussion at the B9 meeting was how to stand up against Russian aggression on NATO’s eastern flank. “In NATO, Estonia is focused on collective defence and developing deterrence on the Alliance’s eastern flank. This is why we continue to highly appreciate allied presence in the Baltic States,” Reinsalu said. According to him, the importance of the cooperation between NATO and the European Union could not be underestimated. The main priorities for closer cooperation are military mobility, cybersecurity and joint exercises of the EU and NATO.
In Reinsalu’s view, improving the response readiness and speed of the Alliance requires fair burden sharing among European allies, that is, moving towards the target of all NATO states spending at least two per cent of their gross domestic product on defence. “Estonia has taken additional steps to completely meet the defence investment pledge,” he said.
The Foreign Minister underscored that the Alliance had to remain open to all countries that share the values of NATO member states and contribute to the security of the Euro-Atlantic region. “Partners such as Georgia and Ukraine need visible support from NATO to encourage them to continue with the reforms they have already began,” Reinsalu said, adding that Estonia supported giving Ukraine the status of a special partner of NATO such as Finland, Sweden, Georgia, Jordan and Australia already enjoy.
The B9 format comprises Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Slovakia, Czech Republic, Hungary, Bulgaria and Romania, and it was launched ahead of NATO’s Warsaw summit to unify positions on bolstering the security of the Baltic and Black Sea regions.
Today’s meeting was hosted by Lithuanian Foreign Minister Linas Linkevičius and President Gitanas Nausėda. Other subjects on the agenda included the conclusions of the NATO meeting of heads of state and government in London, issues of European and global security, as well as energy security and NATO’s role in fighting terrorism.
Photos of the meeting: https://bit.ly/2VZz20b