Experts believe Turkish demands in NATO will not affect Estonia's security
Turkey's demand for allied support in its fight against the Kurdish militia before it can approve renewed Baltic and Polish defense plans will not directly affect national security, while it will impact the alliance's inner climate, experts who appeared on ERR's Otse uudistemajast online program found.
"It will have a worse effect on inner climate than it will on security. Usually, you don't take hostages like that, definitely not on the level of premiers or defense ministers," Martin Hurt from the International Center for Defense and Security (ICDS) said when asked about the effects of Turkey's blackmail attempts by host Aleksander Krjukov. Hurt said such things are handled on the level of officials or the ambassador at the utmost but definitely under the "public radar."
The matter of defense plans and Turkey's demands should not have been on the agenda of the London summit in the first place, said Liis Mure, head of the Ministry of Defence's NATO and EU Affairs Department. "The matter has been on the table for months at NATO headquarters," Mure said. "NATO has plans for defending the Baltics and Poland and renewing them is a routine process we are in the middle of which today," she explained.
"Of course, unresolved matters need to be resolved for Turkey and for us. And relevant efforts are underway," the high-ranking defense ministry official said.
Hurt admitted that the Kurdish question and terrorism are important and sensitive issues for Turkey because Kurdish terrorists have been staging attacks in Turkey for years. The U.S. and France also have ties to Kurdish militias that have supported them in fighting ISIS in Syria.
Both experts said the London summit is not expected to produce major NATO decisions that could affect Estonia.
"Members are sure to talk about so-called burden sharing in NATO, including European countries contributing more to collective defense. As said by Secretary General of NATO Jens Stoltenberg yesterday, the situation has improved considerably over the past five years, with countries having added $150 billion to defense spending since 2016. Deterrence has also become more credible, which is especially good from Estonia's point of view. Everything that strengthens collective defense is good for us," Liis Mure said.
Asked about American President Donald Trump's idea to hike defense spending to 4 percent of GDP, Mure said that while Trump first brought it up last year, even the U.S. itself doesn't spend that on defense today. "Defense spending of some NATO members has been 6-7 percent of GDP during the Cold War, in the 1960s-70s, while 3-4 percent is not realistic today," Mure said.
When Krjukov pointed out that retired general, Reform Party member Johannes Kert has proposed boosting Estonia's defense spending to 3.2-3.6 percent of GDP to give Estonia medium-range air defense and coastal defense capacity, Mure said she does not know what the proposal is based on. "However, it is clear that the more we spend, the more we can afford. While it is also clear a country the size of Estonia can never have it all. In this sense, NATO air policing is a good example of something that NATO gives us that we couldn't have ourselves, even together with Latvia and Lithuania," she noted.
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Editor: Marcus Turovski