President Karis in Davos: Naive to see Russia as part of Europe

President Alar Karis (second left) appearing at a panel discussion at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, Wednesday, May 25 2022.
President Alar Karis (second left) appearing at a panel discussion at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, Wednesday, May 25 2022. Source: Office of the President of the Republic of Estonia.

Seeing Russia as in any way, shape or form as part of Europe's security architecture rather than a threat to it, is at the very least naive, President Alar Karis says.

Speaking after a lunch meeting at this year's World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, Karis said: "It is naive to say that Russia is part of the European security architecture."

"Russia, which has started a full-scale war to conquer Ukraine, does not want to take responsibility for peace and stability in Europe, but aims to undermine said stability and security. Therefore, Russia is now a threat to European security architecture," the president continued.

The lunch meeting was organized by the Washington Post and featured top opinion leaders.

"The war in Ukraine demonstrates to everyone who wishes to see it, that Russia has a desire to undermine the role of NATO and the transatlantic security axis in maintaining security in our region. Russian aggression leaves no choice for NATO – a stronger alliance deterrence in the Baltics and Poland is inevitable, and self-evident," he went on.

Of Estonia's stance on NATO enlargement, the president said: "Estonia has always been a strong supporter of the enlargement policy. We have been in the same situation with the countries wishing to join the EU and we know how important it is to support friends on the difficult reform path. Concrete actions and greater ambition from the EU are also needed."

Russia has commenced a full-scale war on Ukraine and is not interested in peace and stability in Europe – in fact is interested in the reverse of that and wishes to undermine that stability, meaning that the West needs a rethink on its foreign and security policy and needs to be realistic about the situation, Karis said.

He also noted the apparent loss of self-confidence on the part of the West in standing up to Russia, if and where it stands up to Russia at all.

Less timidity is needed, he added: "Let us discourage Russia, not ourselves."

Since one of the areas of Europe Russia is particularly interested in destabilizing is the Baltic States' region, part of NATO's eastern flank, then a permanent NATO allied presence is needed in Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania, while all options for Russia to earn revenue from its oil and gas exports need to be eliminated, the president added.

Europe needs to set an example in its security and prosperity, by, among other things, integrating neighboring countries rather than leaving that to anyone else, and to continue on its path towards a new security alignment in the continent – exemplified by the accession of Finland and Sweden into NATO and the arrival of millions of people fleeing Russian war crimes in Ukraine.

The president also took part in a panel discussion (see cover image) together with Moldovan Prime Minister Natalia Gavrilița, Georgian Prime Minister Irakli Garibashvili – both of whom emphasized the strong desire of the people of both countries to join the EU – along with Austrian Foreign Minister Alexander Schallenberg

Karis also met with Prime Minister Garibashvili bilaterally, as he did with the the Minister of Economy of Saudi Arabia Faisal Al-Ibrahim and the founder and CEO of the World Economic Forum, Klaus Schwab, and also with representatives of large international companies including Siemens and Google, examining areas of possible cooperation with Estonia.

World Economic Forum 2022 runs until Thursday.


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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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