Estonian PM visits Denmark, meets with Queen Margrethe II, Danish officials (1)
On a two-day visit to Copenhagen following a brief trip to Stockholm, Estonian Prime Minister Taavi Rõivas met with Danish counterpart Lars Løkke Rasmussen and Speaker of the Folketing Pia Kjærsgaard on Thursday and Her Majesty Queen Margrethe II and Minister of Defence Peter Christensen on Friday.
"The most important thing for the EU is to find solutions to today’s burning problems such as migration, unemployment and European security," spokespeople quoted Rõivas as saying on Thursday. "We must rethink the EU’s place in the world and try to improve the future prospects of the European economy together."
The two prime ministers discussed opportunities for bringing economic cooperation between Estonia and Denmark to a new level, and Rõivas presented Rasmussen with an overview of Estonia’s experiences concerning public sector e-services, inviting Denmark to follow Finland’s lead and join the Estonian X-Road data exchange platform, which could significantly intensify economic relations between the two countries.
Rõivas also stated that Estonia and Denmark should both stand up for the free movement of data becoming the fifth freedom of the EU.
The Estonian prime minister described defense cooperation between the two countries as intense, underscoring the importance of keeping defense spending on a level of at least two percent of NATO members’ respective GDPs.
"NATO’s European allies must contribute more resources to national defense and we should focus not on short-term costs but on long-term benefits," he said.
Rõivas highlighted Denmark’s contributions to NATO’s collective defense and the fact that it was the first country to contribute to the alliance’s Baltic Air Policing mission as stationed out of Estonia’s Ämari Air Base. He also thanked Rasmussen and Kjærsgaard for the decision to include Danish troops in the NATO battle group to be stationed in Estonia.
Friday’s meetings also focused on European security
Security cooperation was the main focus of Rõivas’ Friday meetings with Her Majesty Queen Margrethe II and Minister of Defence Peter Christensen as well.
“The security situation is alarming and the close relationship between Estonia and Denmark is more important than ever before, be it in strengthening NATO’s collective defense or jointly contributing to ensuring security outside of NATO’s borders,” Rõivas said at his meeting with the queen.
Given the tense current security situation, he added, it was important for all European countries to take security as seriously as Denmark and Estonia, for whom it has always been a priority.
At his meeting with the Danish Minister of Defence, the focus was on the planned deployment of a Danish unit to Estonia as well as recent weeks’ events on and above the Baltic Sea.
“Violations of Estonian and Finnish airspace are clear examples of Russia’s continued attempts to put pressure on the West with different methods of force,” said Rõivas, who said that decisions made at NATO’s Warsaw summit in July to increase allied presence in the Baltic states and Poland were the only possible ones to be made.
The Estonian prime minister thanked Christensen for Denmark’s substantial contributions to reinforcing NATO’s security; Denmark was the first member state to bolster NATO airspace policing out of Estonia’s Ämari Air Base following the annexation of Crimea by Russia in 2014 and will be contributing a company-sized unit to the UK-led battalion to be deployed to Estonia.
“When there is security at home, we are able to contribute together to operations outside of NATO’s borders like we did in Afghanistan and are doing on the Iraqi training mission now,” said Rõivas.