Ratas speaks with Trump in Brussels

Prime Minister Jüri Ratas sat behind U.S. President Donald Trump in the NATO leaders group photo. May 25, 2017.
Prime Minister Jüri Ratas sat behind U.S. President Donald Trump in the NATO leaders group photo. May 25, 2017. Source: (AFP/Scanpix)

Prime Minister Jüri Ratas told ERR that he spoke with U.S. President Donald Trump at the NATO leaders' summit in Brussels on Thursday, highlighting Estonia's contributions in target levels of defense spending.

"I said that Estonia is a strong supporter of NATO, I am grateful that the U.S. has supported Estonia as well and I said that Estonia is the country that contributes 2.17 percent [of its GDP to defense spending]," Ratas recalled.

Estonia is currently one of just five of NATO's 28 member states to fulfill the alliance's two-percent defense spending target.

On Thursday evening, NATO heads of government and state meeting in Brussels approved increasing defense spending as well as contributions to the fight against terrorism, reported ERR's television news.

Trump spoke both in his speech and at a later working meeting with fellow NATO leaders first and foremost about the fight against terror and the need to increase defense spending in European member states. He did not explicitly mention support for NATO's Article 5, the principle of collective defense which was invoked for the first time in history by the U.S. following the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

Ratas said that the message most important to Estonia was Trump saying that he considered Russia dangerous.

"No, he didn't do that exactly, but he implied very clearly what the dangers were with which NATO and NATO member states must deal, and the message that in addition to the threat of terror he personally saw a threat from Russia as well was certainly the most important message for us," said the Estonian head of government.

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg summarized the NATO meeting and Trump's attitude thus: "He had a clear message on the U.S.' commitment to the alliance, but he also has a very plain and clear message on the expectations when it comes to burden-sharing, fair burden-sharing in the alliance."

Editor: Aili Vahtla

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