Prime Minister: Decisions made in Warsaw cannot remain one-time emergency measures
Speaking at the Riigikogu’s public debate “Estonia’s expectations for the NATO summit” on Monday, Prime Minister Taavi Rõivas said that the upcoming Warsaw summit will likely be a historically successful one for Estonia, as its allies become increasingly conscious of the threats on the alliance’s eastern border and have adapted their defense policies according to the changed security environment.
According to Rõivas, a number of experts and analysts have suggested that the Warsaw summit may end up being the most successful summit in NATO’s history. Noting the focus on strengthening collective defense in the run-up to Warsaw, the importance of which Estonia had stressed for years already, the prime minister also added that it would likely be the most successful summit for Estonia since Prague in 2002, when Estonia was invited to join the alliance.
Rõivas noted that a year and a half ago in Wales, member heads of state confirmed that NATO military presence in the Baltics would be the new normal — a promise clearly kept, as allied soldiers have reached Estonia and are taking part in large numbers in the Estonian Defence Forces’ annual Spring Storm exercise, allied ships can be found in the country’s ports, a US Army company is stationed in Tapa, and Ämari Air Base has become home base for NATO’s Baltic Air Policing mission.
The prime minister noted that he would like to both make permanent and expand the allied military presence approved at the 2014 summit in Wales, noting that for Estonia that meant the stationing of a permanent battle-ready battalion-sized unit of up to 1,000 in the country.
He stressed that steps taken in the Wales and Warsaw summits could not remain one-time emergency measures, but rather had to become permanent elements of NATO policy, pointing out that the increase in deterrence measures has been prompted by Russia’s aggressive pattern of behavior, which has not changed over the past two years and remains provocative. The prime minister also noted that the alliance cannot look weak to any of its opponents, whether they are “little green men” from the east or the Islamic State group from the south.
According to Rõivas, NATO has proven that it can adapt to a changing security environment, and Estonia knows that one cannot put a price on security. He expressed hope that other NATO allies would join Estonia and the four other countries currently meeting the alliance’s defense spending goals in committing two percent or more of their GDP to defense.
The 2016 NATO summit will be taking place on July 8-9 in Warsaw, Poland.