Prior to the official start of the NATO Summit in Vilnius, Prime Minister Kaja Kallas (Reforms) participated in the opening discussion of the NATO Public Forum with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Latvian Prime Minister Krišjānis Kariņš, and Adm. Rob Bauer, chairman of the NATO military committee.
In her remarks, Prime Minister Kaja Kallas stressed that the Russian threat is real and long-term and urged all allies to treat it with utmost seriousness. "During the Cold War, in 1988, every NATO ally contributed 2 percent of their GDP to defense spending because they perceived the threat from Russia clearly. We need a similar sense of threat now, but in 2023, only 11 allies spend at least 2 percent of their GDP on defense. I hope that this number will be significantly higher by the next NATO summit," Kallas said.
The Prime Minister emphasized that to strengthen NATO's defense capabilities, there is a need to boost the European defense industry at a much larger scale than before because European stockpiles are not sufficient. "We need to produce more and faster. This is necessary for the continued support of Ukraine. This is necessary to strengthen our own defense so that it would match the new security reality," Kallas said.
Following the panel discussion, Kallas had a bilateral meeting with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. They focused on bilateral cooperation, continued support to Ukraine and strengthening NATO's defense and deterrence posture.
Kallas welcomed deepening bilateral ties between Estonia and Canada, including economic relations. "One recent example of good cooperation is the fact that the Canadian company Neo Performance Materials is constructing a magnet factory in Narva, which will be the first of its kind in Europe and will create a thousand new jobs in Ida-Viru County," the prime minister added.
Kallas thanked Prime Minister Trudeau for Canada's role in ensuring the security of the Baltic States. "Canada's recent decision to double its military presence in Latvia will help strengthen the security of the entire Baltic Sea region. All these steps show that Canada takes the implementation of the decisions made in Madrid very seriously, ensuring greater security for all of us," she said.
Editor: Kristina Kersa