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Minister: 2 percent of GDP defense spending key to strong NATO, Ukraine

Meeting of NATO foreign ministers held in Brussels, Tuesday, November 28, 2023.
Meeting of NATO foreign ministers held in Brussels, Tuesday, November 28, 2023. Source: Ministry of Foreign Affairs

In order for NATO, and thus Ukraine, to remain strong going forward, a per annum defense spend by member states of at least 2 percent of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) is a medicine which will have to be swallowed, Minister of Foreign Affairs Margus Tsahkna (Eesti 200) says.

Tsahkna said earlier this week that: "Increasing defense spending is key to ensuring the implementation of NATO's new defensive plans."

"Two percent of GDP should be the minimum for defense spending," he added, via a ministry press release.

While Estonia exceeds this level of 2 percent of GDP spent on defense per annum, the nominal minimum required of NATO member states. in reality it is not attained by some respectable member states – such as the Netherlands at 1.58 percent.

Minister Tsahkna noted that the West needs to be able to deal with several conflicts at the same time, making increasing defense spending in the current security situation of the utmost importance.

The minister made his remarks in the context of a meeting of NATO foreign ministers held in Brussels Tuesday (pictured).

Allies expressing resolve in their support for Ukraine while at the meeting, Tsahkna noted.

"Despite the extremely complicated state of war, Ukraine has taken significant steps in implementing reforms," Tsahkna said, after a meeting with Dmytro Kuleba, Ukraine's foreign minister.

"NATO is soon to mark its 75th anniversary, while Estonia will mark 20 years as an ally and member state."

Estonia formally joined NATO and the EU in 2004.

The NATO alliance should however continue to grow and there is some unfinished business here even as it admitted its newest member, Finland, this year.

"Estonia supports the open door policy of NATO and we believe that Ukraine's future is in NATO," Tsahkna said, adding that allies agreed tat the meeting hat Ukraine was fighting for not just the liberation of their own country, but also the for the security of the Euro-Atlantic region more broadly.

This makes continuing to raise the cost of Russia's aggression crucial, the minister said.

Of NATO member-in-waiting Sweden, Minister Tsahkna expressed disappointment over the fact that that country was unable to attend Tuesday's meeting as a full member, following prevaricating from Hungary and Turkey over the accession process.

"I urged Hungary and Turkey to work towards ratifying Sweden's membership, as Sweden's accession is important for the security of all NATO member states," Tsahkna added.

Minister Tsahkna also met with his Montenegrin (Filip Ivanović) and Turkish (Hakan Fidani) counterparts while in Brussels, while all the NATO foreign ministers with Josep Borrell, the EU's High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, where the situation in the Western Balkans was under discussion.

Minister Tsahkna recognized the role of the Kosovo peacekeeping force KFOR in maintaining security in the region, and welcomed the progress the Western Balkans have made towards European integration.

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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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