Prime Minister Jüri Ratas (Center) thanked Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy, who visited Ämari Air Base on Monday, for Spain's contributions to the defense of Estonia and thus all of NATO.
"Spain is a strong contributor to the defense of the Baltic states," Ratas said according to a government press release. "Estonia, in turn, contributes with its troops and participates in civil missions in the southern neighborhood of Europe. Instability in the southern neighborhood of Europe, including extremism, influences the whole of Europe. In defense cooperation, solidarity and relying on one another's strengths are invaluable."
From May to August of this year, four Spanish F-18 fighters are located at Ämari Air Base as part of the Baltic Air Policing Mission. 350 Spanish troops are also currently serving in Latvia.
During the brief visit, Estonian Minister of Defence Jüri Luik also met Spanish counterpart María Dolores de Cospedal at Ämari. "Spain's participation in ensuring the security of the Baltic Sea, both through air policing in Estonia and the enhanced presence of allies in Latvia, is a strong sign of solidarity," said Luik. "Spain also participates in the work of NATO's cyber defense center in Tallinn. And we consider it important to contribute to the security of the countries of Southern Europe, where we have just increased Estonia's participation in the EU's Mediterranean operation SOPHIA."
At Monday's meeting, the Estonian ministers confirmed that the security of Europe, including the fight against terrorism, is one of the most important topics of the Estonian Presidency of the Council of the European Union. In this sector, work continues to make information exchange between member states more effective, and solutions are being sought to support countries facing the return of foreign fighters.
Solving the migration crisis is likewise an important issue for Estonia's EU presidency. Spain has recently rescued around one hundred people on the Mediterranean Sea and near the Canary Islands and is actively participating in combating human trafficking and strengthening border control. "Spain has successfully cooperated with third countries, for example, by concluding agreements with African countries," Ratas highlighted. "Their experience should certainly be made use of."
Editor: Aili Vahtla