Kaja Kallas urged other NATO members to boost defense spending following the Baltics, giving the example of Estonia that is set to spend 3.2 percent of its GDP on defense next year.
"I promote it (hiking defense spending – ed.) also on the NATO level," Kallas said in an interview given to German news agency DPA during the Annual Baltic Conference on Defense (ABCD) in Tallinn. The interview was picked up by leading German publications Zeit, Süddeutsche Zeitung, Handelsblatt etc.
DPA reports that Kallas also passionately promoted Estonia's mandatory military service, which serves as a basis for Defense Forces recruitment. The PM said that the situation in Estonia differs from many other European countries where military service is not popular.
"It is the other way around here. An increasing number of people join as volunteers," Kallas said, giving examples where entire high school classes have signed up together. Kallas added that conscription gives young people skills they need later in life.
"You learn a lot. You learn self-defense and other things you'll need in life. Also leadership skills," she said. "Young women ask men who have not completed military service whether they're even real men. We are a little different."
Kallas also said during the conference Tuesday that while the fight in Ukraine will be a long one, Ukraine will win with help from the free world.
"Russia has the resources to sustain its military efforts, including a steady supply of manpower, Soviet-era weaponry and manipulative propaganda," she said. "Putin's strategy appears to revolve around prolonging the war, wagering that both Ukraine and the wider transatlantic community will tire out. But after one small victory for Ukraine comes another. I have faith in their ultimate victory. However, they cannot achieve it alone; they need our support for as long as the war continues. As we provide Ukraine with the necessary assistance, it is crucial that we maintain our belief in Ukraine's eventual victory," Kallas said.
The ABCD23 conference, organized by the International Center for Defense and Security (ICDS), being held in Tallinn these days will host discussions on regional security in the wake of Russia's war in Ukraine. German Defense Minister Boris Pistorius is also attending the conference whose speech on Wednesday is expected to map out Germany's future security policy course.
Editor: Urmet Kook, Marcus Turovski