Estonia has been making all the right decisions lately in order to ensure defence funding reaches 2% of GDP. Next year, the country is prepared to go even further. On top of that, Estonian residents support his initiative, says Estonian Foreign Minister Marina Kaljuranda.
In her interview to 900 seconds programme, the minister added that there is a slight difference between Latvia and Estonia, as the former is at the beginning of this road. The minister congratulated Latvia with the right decision to increase its defence budget. «You will reach this goal, and we, Estonia, will be happy for you, because partner in alliance and the region should do their part,» – explains Kaljuranda.
In regards to potential threats to Baltic States, the Estonian minister said they come from the east, where Russia has already occupied Crimea and continues its aggression against Ukraine. The minister notes that Russia has become more provocative and unpredictable.
«Are we safe? I would say no one is ever 100% safe. Nevertheless, we have done all we can in terms of bilateral relations. We have secured 2% of GDP for defence. I would like to congratulate Latvia and Lithuania with the steps they have made in the right direction. We are part of NATO. I have said this once before and I will say this again – it would be madness to attack NATO,» – said the minister.
This is why she believes threats of potential military invasion are unrealistic. Nevertheless, countries should be prepared for potential provocations. Russia’s provocative behaviour has been spotted near the borders in the form of military exercises, there have been cases of Russian aircraft violating air space borders – all of it, the minister says, should be observed carefully in order for Baltic States be prepared to respond.
Cooperation among Baltic States only deepens. Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia work together more and more, said Kaljuranda. She mentions Baltic Defence College and patrolling of Baltic skies as two primary examples of countries working together. Cooperation has been established with Finland and Sweden even though the two countries are not part of NATO.
In regards to the rest of Europe, the minister said Baltic States have become fully-fledged players in the past decade.
«While we may experience complicated discussions internally, like the one with refugees, I believe the official position, government’s responsibility and readiness to work on practical matters is far more important. I have seen politicians who said one thing in the capital of their country and then announce the opposite upon arriving in Brussels,» – said the minister.
Regardless, she is certain EU foreign ministers are united. No matter the topic – Russia, Ukraine, sanctions or Eastern Partnership – everyone is on the same page. Kaluranda admits she is somewhat surprised that people are so united and supportive, because historically different countries have had different relations with Russia.