"America has Estonia's back," US presidential hopeful Jeb Bush said this morning during the second day of his visit to Tallinn, but refused to be drawn on whether he would send troops to the Baltic states if he is elected next year.
Bush ended his week-long trip to Europe by attending a presentation about Estonia’s technological advances at the e-Estonia Showroom.
Afterwards, during a 10-minute question and answer session with the Estonian and American media, he was asked if he were to become president would he send armed forces to Estonia.
Bush, who is the younger brother of former president George W. Bush, replied that first he would “seek advice about military intervention” before making any action, and mentioned the importance of NATO and international cooperation in the Baltic states.
“We have their [Estonia’s] back,” said the republican. “And are engaged for the long haul.”
But he added it was too premature to say if he would station troops, or how many, in Estonia if he became president, should he be asked to do so.
The former governor of Florida watched presentations from the founders of Skype and TransferWise amongst others, and was clearly impressed with what he saw.
He said: “They [Estonia] embraced using information technology the right way, if you compare that to the most dynamic country in the world – I would say that’s the United States – we have a static on top of our dynamism that is chocking us off."
“You can get your health records protected but be able to access them, you can interact with your teacher as a mom concerned about a child’s education, you can vote online totally protected and you can pay your taxes within two minutes," he added.
“All of these things is an example of moonshot kind of thinking, going way beyond where we are and that’s what I’ve learned from these trips. And I think the US needs a lot more of these to fix things.”
He said the most important take home message from his trip to Estonia was how the people trusted their government to be in charge of their data.
“There is a high level of trust, and how we restore trust in government is going to be a great challenge for the next president for sure, and I don’t think it is going to happen overnight,” he said.
“People are angry and they are not confident their government is working for them,” he added, speaking about Americans. “The examples of what goes on here in Estonia are pretty inspiring from that perspective.”
When asked how he felt his trip had been perceived back home, Bush said he had not been keeping up with the news, but said: “I’ve learned a lot and met a lot of interesting people, but it has been a spectacular trip and I love Estonia.”
Yesterday Bush visited a NATO cyber security centre and this morning had a breakfast meeting with Prime Minister Taavi Rõivas.
The pair spoke about security, economy and Estonia's e-solutions.
Bush also visited Germany and Poland this week, and on Monday in Florida he is expected to announce his campaign to become President of the United States of America.
Jeb Bush and President Toomas Hendrik Ilves (Photo: Annika Haas/President.ee)
Editor: H. Wright