Prime Minister Jüri Ratas met with U.S. House Foreign Affairs Committee chairman Rep. Edward Royce (R-Cali.) in Tallinn on Wednesday to discuss issues related to European security, the priorities of the Estonian presidency of the Council of the EU and bilateral Estonian-U.S. relations.
Ratas thanked the U.S. for its considerable contributions to the security of the Baltic region and reaffirmed the Estonian government's commitment to keep the country's defense spending at the agreed-upon level of at least two percent of the GDP. "It is important for us that if we expect help from our allies, then we also contribute and together fulfill jointly set goals," Ratas said according to a government press release.
On the subject of Estonia's EU presidency, which officially began on July 1 and will run through the end of the year, the prime minister emphasized tht a safe and protected Europe is one of the key topics of the presidency, adding that, as the presidency holder, Estonia desires stronger European-U.S. relations. "In addition to this, one of our clear goals is to improve connections between the EU and Eastern Partnership countries," he continued. "A safe and stable neighborhood is certainly beneficial to all of Europe, and this is a good opportunity for Estonian-U.S. cooperation."
At their meeting, Ratas and Yorce also discussed stimulating Estonian-U.S. trade relations as well as cooperation in the cybersecurity field. The prime minister also introduced Royce to Estonia's e-state services. "Estonians are used to using various e-services and trust the e-state we have built up," Ratas explained. "In order to maintain this trust, the digital environment must be safe, which is why the Estonian state has also contributed a great deal to cybersecurity —in order to constantly preempt potential dangers. We definitely have potential for closer cooperation in this field."
On Tuesday, Royce also met with Minister of Foreign Affairs Sven Mikser (SDE) and Chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the Riigikogu Marko Mihkelson (IRL).
Editor: Aili Vahtla