Despite the tense security situation in the region, Estonia stands ready to address any problems considered important by its allies, said Minister of Defense Hannes Hanso at the opening of the Estonian National Defense Course in Roosta.
According to Hanso, Estonia has returned to down-to-earth mindset in its security policy in recent years, with the concept of a changed world, gaining ground in the 1990s, no longer bearing its weight.
“We are constantly forced to address both conventional and new threats, including hybrid threats. While Estonians have always remained skeptical about their eastern neighbor, other allies are now being forced to face reality. The dream is over, we must respond,” Hanso said.
“Our partners are now beginning to recognize that the threat of conventional war exists also in these parts of the world. For quite some time, these threats were elsewhere, and Estonia, too, could turn its focus on more distant crises. But presently NATO and Estonia have changed focus as the threats do exist here as well,” the defense minister added.
Hanso said that Estonia's decision to spend 2 percent of the GDP on national defense gives the country a “moral precedence” over many other countries, and allows it to “stand out”.
“The visit by the US President last year and the recent visits by the new F-22 fighter jets of the US Air Force serve to send a message – we are of a higher weight category than one might think at first glance. We serve as a good example in the political debates held by our Baltic Sea neighbors over the increase in defense budget or NATO membership, and are often asked to provide an opinion,” Hanso said.
But Hanso also reminded that Turkey and other Western European nations are also currently facing security challenges and it is difficult for any country to face a security challenge alone.
“Our interest is to make sure that our core values are not substituted by short-term interests. Our challenge is to preserve our core values. For this purpose, we must convince our allies by showing them that their interests are also important for us,” Hanso said, adding that with a serious commitment to sovereign national defense, Estonia has a noticeable voice in these discussions.
The purpose of the Estonian National Defense Course, which started in Roosta on Monday, is to introduce Estonia’s security, foreign and defense policies as well as its national defense concept, to an audience of Estonian politicians, senior state officials and members of the Defense Forces, top economic and opinion leaders, cultural and educational practitioners, journalists and NGOs, and to enhance cooperation and social cohesion in the national defense.
The event has been organized since 1999. To date, nearly 1,700 people have participated in the biannual course.
Editor: S. Tambur