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Parliamentary committees react to Brussels summit feedback

Head of the Parliamentary Foreign Affairs Committee, Marko Mihkelson.
Head of the Parliamentary Foreign Affairs Committee, Marko Mihkelson. Source: (Siim Lõvi/ERR)

Estonian Prime Minister Juri Ratas and Foreign Minister Sven Mikser yesterday, Friday, gave an overview of the outcomes of the NATO summit in Brussels to members of the Estonian Parliamentary (Riigikogu) Foreign Affairs and National Defence Committees.

The head of the Parliamentary Foreign Affairs Committee, Marko Mihkelson (Pro Patria), said that the most important message to emerge from the summit was the unity of NATO. This was apparently expressed by the member states in their joint communiqué, which emphasised both addressing the threat scenarios, as well as further developing the capabilities of the alliance, spokespersons for the Riigikogu said.

Mihkelson added that the question as to the amount of money necessary for building capability had already been up in the air long before the Brussels summit. He said that the member states left Brussels with a readiness to make a greater and knowing contribution to strengthening the defence capability of the alliance. The question is rather the speed at which member states increase their defense spending.

The idea, expressed by US President Donald Trump, of raising defence expenditure to 4% of GDP is not realistic, however, according to Mihkelson.

"First of all it is necessary to implement the existing consensus on reaching the level of 2%," he said.

Two per cent a baseline for all NATO states

Mihkelson said that in the case of Estonia, 2% is the minimum, an understanding shared by all political parties. He said that the question is instead whether some of the parties will highlight, during their pre-election campaigns in the run up to the 2019 General Election, the need to raise defense spending to 2.5% of GDP.

Furthermore, Keit Pentus-Rosimannus (Reform), Deputy Chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee, said that all NATO member states need to fulfill their promise.

"While Estonia is one of the countries that have been contributing more than 2% of their GDP to national defence for some time already, in fact it is necessary for all member states to fulfill their obligations," Pentus-Rosimannus said.

Johannes Kert (Reform), member of the Riigikogu National Defense Committee, pointed out in the context, if the outcome of the summit turns out to be changes to NATO's command structure, alongside the unity of NATO and a more equal distribution of the burden of defence spending, then from the viewpoint of Estonia, the decision to set up a divisional headquarters to coordinate the military efforts of the three Baltic States is paramount.

Editor: Andrew Whyte

Source: BNS

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