Obama Visit to Tallinn Will Include Presidents from Latvia, Lithuania and Poland
The agenda for US President Barack Obama's September visit to Estonia is starting to take shape.
The White House confirmed today what had been rumored for most of Thursday and which was first to be reported by ERR: Obama will stop in Tallinn, most likely on September 3, on his way to the NATO summit in Wales on September 4-5.
"In Tallinn, he will meet with President Ilves, as well as Prime Minister Roivas, to discuss bilateral ties, strategic and regional cooperation, and our shared commitment to the trans-Atlantic partnership," said Caitlin Hayden, National Security Council spokesperson, in the announcement.
President Toomas Hendrik Ilves said the visit will reaffirm the strong and productive allied relations, common goals and common activity between Estonia and the US.
Ilves also met Obama last August at the White House and discussed global security.
"The question is now even more urgent and the focus has unexpectedly come to Europe. This June at the summit in Warsaw, where President Obama met Central and Eastern European heads of state, we named it one of the the current period's most complicated crises, which obliges us to take strong and visible steps to defend freedom and democracy," the Office of the President quoted Ilves as saying.
Andres Kasekamp, chairman of the Estonian Foreign Policy Institute, speculated that the choice of Estonia for the visit underscores the country's defense spending. Estonia is the only one of the Baltics and one of only a few countries in Europe to spend at least 2 percent on defense.
For its part, the Wales meeting is planned to be the largest gathering of international leaders ever to take place in Britain. Obama, Germany's Chancellor Merkel, France's President Hollande, are scheduled to be there, along with leaders and senior ministers from around 60 other countries.
The agenda is supposed to include the conflict in Ukraine, as well as the drawdown in NATO troops from Afghanistan.
According to the Latvian Public Broadcasting website, LSM.LV, the Latvian and Lithuanian presidents, as well as the president of Poland, will be in Tallinn to meet with Obama as well to discuss “a range of topics," although Baltic defense is likely to be the main topic of discussion.
"The situation in the world has changed dramatically, so there will be questions about new NATO tactics [...] and instability in Iraq, the Gaza Strip so we can coordinate our strategies," said Latvian President Andris Bērziņš, according to LTV's news program “Rita Panorama."
Obama will be the second sitting US president to visit Estonia. George W. Bush came to Tallinn in 2006.