Estonian Minister of Foreign Affairs Marina Kaljurand did not agree with a recent claim by US Ambassador to NATO Douglas Lute that there was no chance of NATO enlargement in the near future as this could aggravate and destabilize Russia.
“The stability of Russia but also Europe as well is mainly jeopardized by Russian government policy regarding the undermining of Europe’s security framework,” Kaljurand told BNS, citing the unlawful annexation of Crimea in 2014 as an example of this.
Douglas Lute, retired US Army lieutenant general and current US Permanent Representative to NATO, had stated on Friday that there was no chance of NATO enlargement in the near future as such an expansion of the security alliance could aggravate and destabilize Russia.
“Russia must return to respecting the core principles of European security, and these principles include the right of all European countries to choose whether or not to belong to military alliances,” Kaljurand stressed in her commentary to BNS. “This principle has, among other things, created a basis for NATO to expand. Russia once put its signature under such a principle and this cannot be contested — not now or in the future. NATO is essentially a defense alliance, and [its existence and activity] is not directed at any one country,” added the foreign minister.
Estonia continued to support the enlargement of NATO, Kaljurand told BNS regarding Lute’s comments on the halting of NATO expansion. “Estonia’s policy regarding NATO enlargement remains unchanged: we have supported and will continue to support NATO’s open-door policy,” stated the minister. “Every country has the right to choose its own security solution, and those countries that wish to become members of NATO and also meet all necessary criteria must be given the chance to join the alliance.”
Kaljurand continued, “NATO makes its membership decisions independently, as witnessed in the most recent invitation to Montenegro, whose Accession Protocol should be signed soon. The open-door policy has been a success story in regards to facilitating the development of stability, democracy, and the rule of law in candidate countries, and this should continue.”
Last December, Montenegro became the first country to join the military alliance since 2009. This invitation garnered an angry response from Moscow, who oppose NATO’s expansion in Eastern and Southeastern Europe.
NATO had also given Georgia an open-ended promise of membership in 2008, and other Balkan States including Macedonia and Bosnia and Herzegovina are interested in joining the alliance as well. Ukraine is likewise interested in becoming a member of NATO.
Editor: Editor: Aili Sarapik