NATO robust, spending to increase, says foreign minister Mikser

Estonian foreign minister Sven Mikser (left) with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg in Brussels on Thursday.
Estonian foreign minister Sven Mikser (left) with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg in Brussels on Thursday. Source:

Foreign Minister Sven Mikser (SDE) was in Brussels on Thursday and met with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg. The pair discussed the next steps in strengthening NATO's deterrence and defence posture, plus cooperation between it and the EU.

Mr Mikser expressed confidence in NATO's ability to adapt to security threats, saying that its work in the area has been robust. Action points arising from July's summit in Brussels were also covered, with a road map tabled containing over 100 areas of the alliance's further development, including modernising NATO's command structure.

"The most important areas for Estonia are its capability in strengthening forces already in place with additional troops, as well as planning for unexpected crises," Mr Mikser said, emphasizing the importance of exercises that enhance cooperation between allies, like the one about to commence in Norway.

Further spending increases necessary

Mr Mikser and Mr Stoltenberg agreed that whilst allied defence spending has increased four years running, the current security situation necessitates further spending increases. Mr Mikser reaffirmed Estonia's commitment to ensuring security and strengthening the alliance.

"Estonia's proposed defence budget for the next year is 2.2 % of GDP'' he confirmed. For his part Mr Stoltenberg thanked Estonia for maintaining its defence spending at the level of 2% as per its responsibilities, and for hosting NATO troops from several nations.

Regarding cooperation between the EU and NATO, Mr Mikser emphasised that Estonia is set on further developing EU defence cooperation in a way which would also support the alliance: "NATO is and will remain the corner stone of our security," he noted.

EU and Russia

The most significant areas of EU-NATO cooperation from an Estonian perspective are military mobility, cyber-defence, and preparedness to respond to hybrid threats.

Mr Mikser and Mr General Stoltenberg also discussed NATO-Russian relations. Mr Mikser said NATO should maintain a balance between deterrence and dialogue. "Future cooperation is possible only when Russia starts fulfilling its obligations under international law," he continued.

Editor: Andrew Whyte

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