President: NATO depends on member states' mutual understanding

President Kersti Kaljulaid (left) and NATO secretary general Jens Stoltenberg.
President Kersti Kaljulaid (left) and NATO secretary general Jens Stoltenberg. Source: Office of the President of Estonia.

The NATO alliance depends on the mutual understanding of all of its member states, President Kersti Kaljulaid said after meeting the alliance's Secretary General on Wednesday.

President Kaljulaid met NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg in Brussels Wednesday, where the pair discussed international security and the alliance's challenges over the next decade.

Kaljulaid stressed at the meeting that NATO's strength derives from the clout of its individual members, and expressed the wish that the alliance could understand each other's viewpoints and assessments.

Kaljulaid said: "For Estonians, NATO likely symbolises the noise emanating from Ämari air base and the soldiers serving at Tapa, along with their equipment. Both are important for Estonia and for the entire union. NATO is actually everywhere around us, 360 degrees. We must not lower our security ambition and for that to not happen, all member states must speak honestly about their problems, listen and try to understand each other's. Only then can we presume that the alliance's dangers on its northeastern flank will resonate with other allies."

"We have one NATO - the same organization exists in Mediterranean ports and at Ämari hangars alike," the president noted.

Escalating conflicts and instability in NATO member states' surrounding regions also came up: "We are worryingly monitoring the escalation of conflict in Nagorno-Karabakh and developments in Belarus. NATO's common and clear stance is that the people of Belarus should have the right to make their own path through free and honest elections," Kaljulaid said.

Following the meeting, the two also held a virtual two-way press conference - the first in NATO's history.

Kaljulaid is currently on a three-day working visit in the region and will meet Luxembourg Prime Minister Xavier Bettel on Thursday, followed by a visit to Paris, France on Friday.

Kaljulaid also presented Jens Stoltenberg with the Order of the Cross of Terra Mariana, which he had been awarded last year.


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Editor: Kristjan Kallaste

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