Chief of Defence Forces: It’s time for Estonia to take it easy (2)
According to Chief of the Estonian Defence Forces Lt. Gen. Riho Terras, decisions reached at the NATO Warsaw Summit, which took place July 8-9, will increase Estonia’s permanent level of readiness twofold, and allied presence in Estonia should be regarded as a peaceful routine, as is their presence in Italy and Germany.
"We have certainly received more than we ever thought possible, and just about as much as we had asked for,” said Terras in an interview with Estonian daily Eesti Päevaleht. “Approximately one year ago we sent a letter in which we discussed a battalion in order to demonstrate our level of ambition, and now it has become reality. Eight months ago nobody would have believed it, and I am incredibly grateful to those people who helped achieve such a result.”
In Terras’ opinion, the most important message currently is the fact that all 28 NATO member states take the Article 5 obligation very seriously. “Very many states also want to contribute in the east, on both the north and south sides,” said the commander-in-chief, referring to the Baltic States, Poland, Bulgaria and Romania. “In my opinion, we should be satisfied with this. In that sense we should also calm down somewhat and get the message across that there is no war — that [we are in] a period of peace.”
Terras admitted that he fears that following the Warsaw Summit, Russian media will attempt to incite even more panic. “This could already be seen during the summit,” he noted. “To cause an even greater feeling of insecurity, up to the point that they compare NATO to Hitler’s Germany — this unfortunately cannot be avoided in any way.”
The main message to the Estonian people, however, is, in Terras’ opinion, the fact that there is no war; there is peace. He found that [Estonians] should take it easy — that the current situation should be taken as normal — and not pay too much attention to what is being said in the name of propaganda.
“Maybe it isn’t necessary to reflect every flight or military movement in the news,” continued Terras. “This is routine. The Estonian Defence Forces are also moving about on their own territory, and there will be more allies around in the future, but this is routine for the military.”
The lieutenant general also added that this military presence would be beneficial to the local economy as well, quipping that “If I were a civilian and I had some free capital, then I would strongly consider opening an English pub in Tapa.”