Estonia will not make, under any conditions, compromises on the expense of strengthening national defense, Prime Minister Jüri Ratas (Center) said on Wednesday. Defense expenses will rise to 2.29 percent of GDP.
Ratas gave the opening statement at the Annual Baltic Conference on Defense (ABCD) and said: "Today, the government will submit a budget with defence expenses increased to €645 million to the Riigikogu. We are maintaining the course that we have held since 2012, investing at least 2 percent in defense expenses. As a border state of NATO and the European Union, Estonia cannot make compromises in security."
As for the issue of strengthening society and defense in the light of the coronavirus crisis, Ratas said it is important to look at national defence in its entirety, paying attention to internal security and a culture of preparedness in the whole society.
"Combating the coronavirus pandemic required an inclusive approach and provided a challenge for the entire society. Unfortunately, there will always be crises that affect the society. Therefore, it is important to expand our preparedness for crises and make our authorities and enterprises more crisis-proof: in other words, to enhance our overall culture of preparedness," he said.
Ratas said this budget includes important investments into internal security and compilation of emergency stocks. With the state budget for 2021, the state continues to create an emergency reserve for the Police and Border Guard Board and strengthen our maritime and aerial capabilities.
Next year, the state will contribute €45 million into strengthening the national security of supply, and establish a centre for supplies to centralise all resources for population protection.
The prime minister said that the coronavirus crisis proved how important international cooperation can be.
"The best thing to do is to act in unison and in a coordinated manner. The cooperation among institutions of the European Union and the Member States could have been better in the beginning of the crisis. For example, closing the borders raised the issue of military mobility. At the same time, we are not underestimating the role of the EU and NATO in solving the crisis, whether it is extensive resources invested in mitigating economic effects or coordinating cooperation among allies. Estonia joined in to help our allies prevent the spread of the coronavirus," Ratas stressed.
Editor: Helen Wright