Estonian president reiterates country's support for Finland NATO accession
President Alar Karis has confirmed Estonia's strong support for its northern neighbor, Finland, in charting its course to join NATO.
At a meeting with Finland's foreign minister, Pekka Haavisto, on Wednesday, the Estonian head of state also stressed his country's readiness to contribute to Finland's smooth integration with NATO political and military structures.
The president also called for urgent help for Ukraine in getting through winter, restoring its energy infrastructure and of emerging victorious from its defensive war with Russia, now nearing its first anniversary.
"All decisions made in support of Ukraine are the right ones, and their implementation has been rapid," the president said.
"We must surely continue to bolster Ukraine's defense capabilities, both bilaterally, and EU level, and I am glad that we have acted decisively on this matter," he went on, according to a press release.
"Russia's war of aggression in Ukraine has lasted almost a year," Karis went on. "We must act to help Ukraine win, restore its territorial integrity, and achieve peace, on Ukrainian terms. The EU has done much, but sanctions can be tightened even more."
The president also thanked Foreign Minister Haavisto for his country's willingness to help out in hosting Ukrainian war refugees and for strong cooperation on managing its borders.
The two countries remain closely intertwined in many areas of life, he went on, naming digital cooperation as being of practical value for both the private sector and the wider public, and in the essential decoupling from Russian energy supply.
The meeting also covered cooperation with African nations and with Arctic Council countries.
Haavisto also met with his Estonian counterpart, Urmas Reinsalu, on Wednesday, when the pair gave a joint press conference on the security themes and NATO accession.
Finland applied to join NATO at the same time as neighboring Sweden did, last May, in the wake of Russia's invasion of Ukraine.
While Estonia rapidly ratified the application of both states, with nearly all other member states following suit, two hold-outs remain: Hungary, and Turkey.
In the latter case, Haavisto suggested this week at as a last resort, Finland may need to press on with joining the alliance ahead of Sweden, though added that this was a less likely scenario. Ankara says that Sweden harbors members of pro-Kurdish and other terror groups, while tensions were recently stoked up following anti-Islamic protests in Stockholm.
Finland's Minister of Defense, Mikko Savola said on Wednesday that his country is taking part in the international coalition aimed at sending Leopard 2 heavy tanks to Ukraine, though it is not clear whether Finland itself will send any of the tanks.
Germany pledged the same day to send 14 Leopard 2s to Ukraine, joining the same number of British Challenger 2 tanks and around 30 U.S. M1 Abrams tanks.
The pan-Europe Leopard 2 consignment will reportedly total 80.
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Editor: Andrew Whyte