Prime minister: German leadership crucial to peace in Europe

From left, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, Estonian Prime Minister Kaja Kallas, Latvian Prime Minister Krišjānis Kariņš and Lithuanian Prime Minister Ingrida Šimonytė in Tallinn, Friday, May 26, 2023.
From left, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, Estonian Prime Minister Kaja Kallas, Latvian Prime Minister Krišjānis Kariņš and Lithuanian Prime Minister Ingrida Šimonytė in Tallinn, Friday, May 26, 2023. Source: Government of the Republic of Estonia.

While the past 15 months have been particularly intense for all of Europe, to find a way to permanent peace, German leadership at European Union and NATO level is crucial, Prime Minister Kaja Kallas (Reform) said Friday.

The prime minister made her remarks at a statement addressing German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, who was on an official visit to Tallinn on Friday, joined by the prime ministers of Latvia and Lithuania, Krišjanis Karinš and Ingrida Šimonyte.

The statement follows in its entirety.

Dear Olaf, Krisjanis, Ingrida, dear journalists,

I am very glad to welcome you all in Tallinn. We last met in this format a year ago in Vilnius. The year behind us has been an extremely intense one. A lot has been done; many landmark decisions have been made. Ukraine has proved to the world it can win this war, with the transatlantic family strongly next to it.

But everyday, Russia's atrocities have continued. Mass killings, the bombing of civilians, deportations, including of children – Russia is closely copying the Soviet playbook we in this region know all too well.

I come from a generation that was born without freedom, and now we have it. I don't take it for granted. I understand freedom is something you must fight for.

That is why I continue to advocate for Ukraine's victory, where victory means Russia goes back to Russia. Victory means ensuring that aggression ends in defeat. Victory means an end to Russia's cycle of violence and aggression against its neighbors.

The faster Putin understands he cannot reach his objectives, the sooner this war will end. Our strength is in our unity. But breaking this unity is the Kremlin's strategy to win. We will prove them wrong. We cannot agree with Putin's "Landraub" (land grabbing).

For this reason, the number one focus is arms, ammunition and training – they all must continue at a scale sufficient for Ukraine to win the war. Thank you, Olaf, for the recent historic €2.7 billion military aid package to Ukraine. The air defense systems Germany sent are playing a vital part in Ukraine's defense, while Patriot missiles are protecting Kyiv's skies and saving lives.

However, it is not only battlefield success which will decide the outcome of the war. We have to show the Kremlin it cannot outlast Ukraine and the free world economically. As a result, Ukraine's victory also depends on our ability to dry up the Kremlin's war machine and its income to finance its aggression.

There is the fight for freedom and there is the fight for justice. Ukraine needs to win both. Without accountability, Russia's cycle of violence will never stop. Crimes without punishment encourage and inspire new ones. Russia has never been held accountable. Russian leaders today have seen from history that their leaders in the past have never had to face justice for the atrocities committed.

For peace in Europe, we need a geopolitical EU and a strong and credible NATO. For peace in Europe, we need Ukraine in the EU and NATO. We have seen throughout history how gray zones are a breeding ground for wars while NATO and EU enlargement have increased stability – the three Baltic states are a living example of it.

And for peace in Europe, we need Germany's leadership – be it in NATO, in a geopolitical EU or in making sure Europe is able to defend itself militarily.

Ladies and gentlemen,

Ukraine's fight for its existence is also a fight for freedom and dignity in Europe. And Russia's aggression inevitably carries a cost to our own societies. Living next to a pariah state comes at a cost.

We must make sure any future aggression would be deterred or pushed back immediately. Looking ahead to the NATO Vilnius Summit, we need first and foremost NATO's new regional defense in place. And we need to have them backed up by necessary forces.

Defense spending above 2 percent [of GDP] and increased defense investments must become a common commitment for the Allies. And we also need to find ways and money to boost the European defense industry. To illustrate my concern: In real terms, in 2022 the defense spending by European Allies in fact fell by 11.6 percent, compared with 2021's level.

Estonia is taking its obligations as an ally extremely seriously – we are raising our defense spending to 3 percent of GDP and continuously strengthening our national defense. To that end, Estonia and Latvia began negotiations with a German manufacturer to jointly procure medium-range air defense. This is an important milestone for our cooperation, to better protect our skies.

We need to also look into the future and ask how to reduce our vulnerabilities and bad dependencies. Estonia's goal is 100 percent renewable electricity by 2030 and offshore wind is key for that.

I am glad that German-Baltic energy cooperation is intensifying. As an example of this, only two weeks ago, our transmission system operators committed to study the possibility for a new electricity cable to Germany, the Baltic WindConnector, to utilize our offshore potential and boost energy security.


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Editor: Andrew Whyte

Source: Government of the Republic of Estonia

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