Estonian Defense Minister Sven Mikser expressed mild disappointment over the statements by German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Riga, which indicated that Germany does not support permanent NATO bases in the Baltics for fear of angering Russia.
"The fact that it is politically extremely important for the Germans to stress the NATO-Russia Founding Act from 1997 is no surprise. And it is not surprising that Germany and Estonia have a somewhat different understanding of how to keep the peace and keep crises from escalating," Mikser said on ETV on Tuesday night, on the eve of the August 20 national holiday,
"If Germany thinks Russia must not be provoked, we can agree with that. But in Estonia's view, weakness in dealing with Putin's regime is more provocative than showing strength, and thus Estonia's position is that NATO must have a permanent presence in the Baltics."
During a one-day visit to Riga on Monday, Merkel said a special arrangement from 1997 that laid out steps for a partnership with Russia continues to hold force. That included restrictions on permanently basing troops in Eastern European countries that were in the process of joining NATO.
Mikser countered that Russia has already violated terms of that agreement. NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen has said in the past the alliance must never feel bound by it when it comes to defending its members.