Estonian president: NATO 2% defense spending pledge no longer sufficient

President Alar Karis at the
President Alar Karis at the "B9" meeting in Bratislava on June 6, 2023. Source: Raigo Pajula

NATO members must raise their defense spending and ideally reach 3 percent, Estonian President Alar Karis said at a meeting of eastern flank states on Tuesday.

"Given the security situation at present, the pledge taken in Wales [2014] to invest at least 2 percent of GDP in our defense budgets is no longer sufficient," he said at the "Bucharest 9" meeting in Slovakia.

Estonia's defense budget will hit 3 percent next year and Karis encouraged other countries to raise theirs.

"Other countries on NATO's eastern flank are setting a similar example, but there should be a collective understanding within the alliance that new plans, new forces and new elements of management require improved capacity, more people and greater investments," he said.

"Without further developments in our capabilities, without increased funding and without boosting the readiness of our forces, we will not cope. Every analysis has shown that our current level of spending is simply not enough."

Karis highlighted that only nine of the 30 member states met the 2 percent target and it should become a priority for all.

"As an alliance we are talking about being in a time of war, but we are spending as though we are in a time of peace," he cautioned, adding that a solution needs to be found at the upcoming Vilnius Summit.

The president also called for "bold decisions" to be made in Vilnius about Ukraine's NATO path and said it is important as it will allow the country to rebuild itself.

He also expressed hope that Sweden would be a member of the alliance by the time of the summit.

 The B9 format of countries on NATO's eastern flank incorporates Bulgaria, Czechia, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Romania and Slovakia.


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Editor: Helen Wright

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