President: Europe needs to contribute more to its defense

Emmanuel Macron and Kersti Kaljulaid in Paris.
Emmanuel Macron and Kersti Kaljulaid in Paris. Source: Office of the President.

President Kersti Kaljulaid, who is attending the Paris Peace Forum, said Europe must make a greater contribution to preventing local conflicts in addition to transatlantic cooperation, ERR reported on Wednesday.

ERR correspondent Epp Ehand spoke to Kaljulaid from Paris after the president met with French President Emmanuel Macron.

Macron's recent statement about NATO, where he said he was angry at the behavior of the U.S. and Turkey and said that NATO is brain-dead, has been echoed and discussed worldwide. What do you think about this comment?

I had the opportunity to have dinner with President Macron on Monday night, and of course, I had the opportunity to discuss what was causing his concerns.  Objectively speaking, it is currently linked to Turkey.

In fact, all of us here should take a look at all the so-called modern-day policy speeches and realize that the transatlantic bond is, by its nature, changing anyway because for a very long time Russia was the biggest global threat, but now the biggest global threat is China, while Russia still remains the biggest threat in our region.

It is quite clear that, while maintaining transatlantic cooperation and connection, we are part of a liberal democratic value space, but we must do more to defuse our regional concerns here. But global concerns do not pass us by, and we must contribute to solving them.

What should this European path be?

Exactly this, we need to take on more responsibility here in Europe, we have to contribute more to our [own] defense. Last night there was a dinner with the Senate president. In a very narrow circle, one could even say that it was an intimate debate, given how few people were there and how little red carpet there was. It was such a nice exchange for just such a topic, how can we spend in Europe so that countries that have allies and friends in their own area could support those with a smaller economy in Europe, like the Baltic States, so that we could provide the necessary protection for our value space, so that the NATO umbrella wouldn't be thinner here than anywhere else, because the threats behind our border have not disappeared. It may seem to us that our concerns are not well understood, but they are understood very well.

For Estonians, it is still startling to hear that NATO is brain-dead. Are we afraid to hear those words?

I was just trying to explain what President Macron told me about why he used such an expression.

There is much asked about this in interviews, and I have been happy to answer that when it comes to tactical levels and NATO activities in the Baltic States, when we look at our Ämari mission, when we look at Tapa, when we look at how NATO develops its troops In Northeast Europe in the form of headquarters leadership and development, we have no reason to say such a thing.

But if some heads of state leave the impression that strategic discussion is desirable, they will undoubtedly have the opportunity to express it.


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Editor: Helen Wright

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