Estonia's ambassador to Russia, Jüri Luik, said on the occasion of Estonia's 10-year NATO membership anniversary that Estonia might not be invited to join today had it not joined in 2004.
"During times of crisis, military alliances do not expand, but focus on protecting its members. Speaking about the Baltic nations we were and currently also are in a complicated geopolitical situation,“ Luik said on Friday, a day before the anniversary, speaking at a presentation of a book covering Estonia's journey to join NATO.
"NATO's former partner Russia has swapped diplomacy and international law for tanks and armored vehicles. NATO is ready for that challenge,“ said President Toomas Hendrik Ilves at the event, adding that all citizens must do their duty.
Commenting on calls to increase defense spending, new Defense Minister Sven Mikser said possible short-term increases are possible, but raising spending to higher levels from the current 2 percent of GDP would have to receive the nation's approval, he said.
Estonia joined the North Atlantic Treaty Organization on March 29, 2004, along with Latvia, Lithuania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Bulgaria and Romania after eight years of negotiations.
CORRECTION: Estonia joined NATO on March 29, 2004. The accession ceremony was held three days later.