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Kallas: Trump's comments may 'wake up' some NATO allies

Kaja Kallas in Tallinn on February 12, 2024.
Kaja Kallas in Tallinn on February 12, 2024. Source: Stenbocki maja

Donald Trump's comments about not supporting allies unless they meet the alliance's spending pledge may act as a "wake-up" call, Prime Minister Kaja Kallas (Reform) said on Monday. She also confirmed she had been approached to lead the European Parliament's ALDE group.

Asked by ERR to address Trump's comments, Kallas said Estonia has been advocating for Allies to do more: "I think what the presidential candidate in America says is also something to maybe wake up some of the allies who have not done that much. So hopefully we will all do more and and collectively we are stronger together."

The prime minister was speaking at a press conference with President of the European Parliament Roberta Metsola, who was on a one-day visit to Estonia.

Metsola said European countries must increase defense spending and send a clear message "irrespective of who will lead the next American administration" that Europe is strong enough to defend itself.

"And any statement of that sort needs to be recognized with the danger that it brings, but also a steadfastness on our regard, that we need to do more, just in case we need to be alone," the president said.

Kaja Kallas and Roberta Metsola in Tallinn on February 12, 2024. Source: Valitsuse pressiteenistus

Kallas was also asked about rumors she would be exchanging Tallinn for Brussels in the coming months to lead the European Parliament's Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe Party (ALDE) grouping. She is also seen as a front-runner for the EU's foreign policy chief position.

The prime minister said she had not made her mind up yet.

"Well, I think this is a great honor, not just for me but also for Estonia because we are a small country and we have been recognized, also in the liberal family. And yes, it is true that I have been talked to regarding this, that I could energize the Liberal campaign. Whether to do this or not I haven't really decided yet because I am the prime minister of Estonia and there is no possibility for Liberals to actually be the European Commission president. So, if I were to support the Liberals then [it would be] to support the Liberals not to the real contender for European Commission president," she said in a response to newspaper Eesti Paevaleht's question.

Metsola emphasized it is early days in the process, but said: "The prime minister is doing a remarkable job for Estonia, Estonians, and Europeans and she can always, always count on my support."

Metsola visited Tallinn as part of a tour around the member states to promote the upcoming election and increase participation.

She encouraged all Estonians to vote, highlighting that five years ago the turnout rate was 37 percent. "I hope this time more Estonians make their voices heard, and this is particularly important at a time when war has returned to our continent and democracy is increasingly under threat," Metsola said. "Do not take Europe for granted."

Both leaders emphasized the fight against disinformation, including its spread on major social media platforms.

"Russia is waging a shadow war against democratic societies - its goal is to create mistrust, discourage us from supporting Ukraine and influence democratic decision-making processes. This year, when important elections are held in both Europe and America, we must be especially vigilant," said Kallas.

Roberta Metsola in Tallinn on February 12, 2024. Source: Stenbocki maja

In a meeting before the press conference, the pair discussed the European Union's goals for the next five years, support for Ukraine, European security, the need to invest in the defense industry, and the use of frozen Russian assets to support Ukraine.

"This remains our number one priority and I am confident that this will also be the case after the elections in June," Metsola said.

During her visit, Metsola gave a speech in the Riigkogu to MPs, which can be watched below, and met with speaker Lauri Hussar (Eesti 200).

Hussar emphasizes that support for Ukraine needs to continue and the country must be able to "count on" the EU.

She also met with President Alar Karis. The pair discussed the upcoming European Parliament elections and how to engage society and young people.

Additionally, Karis highlighted Estonia's 20 years in the EU. "Time to think of our achievements," he wrote on social media.

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Editor: Mait Ots, Helen Wright

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