Estonian MEP and former foreign minister Urmas Paet (Reform) has requested an explanation from Prime Minister Jüri Ratas, regarding the latter's positive interpretation of the attitude of US President Donald Trump toward NATO. Mr. Paet believes Mr. Ratas' statements in the wake of the recent Brussels summit, which he attended together with Minister of Foreign Affairs Sven Mikser and Minister of Defence Jüri Luik, suggest a view of the POTUS which differ radically from many informed, mainstream views.
As reported by ERR, Jüri Ratas was keen to underline Donald Trump's commitment to a stronger NATO and rejected media claims of an imminent US pullout unless defence spending contributions to NATO from its other members increased.
However, Urmas Paet, who was Minister of Foreign Affairs in for over nine years during the Prime Ministerships of Andrus Ansip and Taavi Rõivas (both Reform), does not see Mr. Trump's attitude towards the NATO alliance in such a positive light. Citing an article in UK quality daily The Guardian, entitled "Trump's oily and obnoxious personality sorely tests British diplomacy", by Diplomatic Editor Patrick Wintour, which appeared on The Guardian's website on Friday evening Estonian time, Mr. Paet had the following to say on his social media account:
"Regarding the paragraph below [in the Wintour Guardian Article – ed.], I would definitely expect a speedy explanation from Prime Minister Jüri Ratas, who walked hand in hand with Trump.''
Guardian sees Trump as having in some ways better relations with Moscow than with his existing theoretical allies
Mr. Paet was most likely referring to images of Mr. Ratas in apparent cordial conversation with Donald Trump and his wife Melania, together with Mr. Ratas' wife Karin, upon arriving at a formal dinner on Wednesday evening, the first day of the two-day summit. This is in addition to his trusting remarks concerning Mr. Trump and his motives following the summit.
''Namely, it is said in the article published in The Guardian that at NATO, Trump also said he was open to stopping NATO military exercises in the Baltic states," Mr. Paet went on, in the same social media post, noting that Trump is to meet Russian President Vladimir Putin on Monday, 16 July.
"'It is clear from the past two days that Trump's inclination is to side with those who want to break up the European Union, while he at least regards NATO's survival as a matter for discussion'," Mr. Paet continued, directly quoting from the Wintour piece.
'''At NATO, he also said he was open to stopping NATO military exercises in the Baltic states, a request Putin is likely to make','' the quoted article also said, after opining that Mr. Trump craves a 'different' relationship with Moscow, one which he might find easier to cultivate than what he has managed so far either at Brussels or in London (immediately after the Brussels summit, Mr. Trump embarked on a two-day official visit to the UK).
Estonian Prime Minister's more optimistic view of the US President and NATO
This is in contrast with Jüri Ratas answer to a question put to him by the Baltic News Service regarding Donald Trump's threat to pull the US out of NATO if its allies failed to meet its defence spending commitments and/or increase fast enough.
Mr. Ratas at that time said that the impression he got was of Donald Trump's desire to see a strong NATO with the US very much involved: "The US continues to be committed to NATO,'' Mr. Ratas reportedly said.
Urmas Paet, 44, was Minister of Foreign Affairs in Estonia from 2005-2014, a period during which Ukraine, and relations with Russia, figure prominently. This included episodes such as the 'Euromaiden' protests and fatalities in Kiev, the Crimea coming under the rule of the Russian Federation (it had previously been a constituent part of Ukraine) following a referendum, ongoing clashes between pro-Russian forces and the armed forces of Ukraine in the easternmost region of Ukraine, and the downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 by surface to air missile over eastern Ukrainian airspace. He was elected to the European Parliament in 2014 and is a member of the Group of the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe (ALDE).
Mr. Paet had recently voiced criticisms of Donald Trump in the aftermath of the early resignation of US Amassador to Estonia James Melville; the latter had cited statements by the sitting US President regarding the EU and NATO as prompting his standing down.
Editor: Andrew Whyte