Chairman of NATO Military Committee visits Estonia affirming NATO’s commitment to collective defence
Chairman of the NATO Military Committee, General Petr Pavel, visited Estonia from 13 to 15 December 2017. During his visit, General Pavel met with HE Mrs Kersti Kaljulaid, President of Estonia, HE Mr Jüri Luik, Minister of Defence, General Riho Terras, Commander of Estonian Defence Forces as well as members of the National Defence Committee. While in Estonia, General Pavel also visited the NATO Force Integration Unit, NATO Cooperative Cyber Defence Centre of Excellence, Baltic Defence College and NATO’s enhanced Forward Presence Battle Group stationed in Tapa.
Kicking off his three-day visit to Estonia with a meeting with the Estonian Chief of Defence, General Riho Terras, General Pavel commended Estonia for being “a steadfast Ally which you demonstrate by actively contributing to NATO Missions and Operations, by hosting one of NATO’s eight NFIUs, and by being an excellent host to the enhanced Forward Presence Battle Group.”
While in Tallinn, General Pavel also visited the NATO Force Integration Unit (NFIU), stressing its role as "one of the building blocks of NATO’s Deterrence & Defence Strategy, including through expertise in planning the necessary support for NATO forces and in matters of military mobility”.
Discussions with Mr Jüri Luik, Estonian Minister of Defence, centred on next year’s NATO Summit, expectations and actions to further strengthen the Alliance. The Chairman praised Estonia's "pragmatic approach to defence, fulfilling objectives set at both national and Allied level. I am impressed with how you deal with the defence budget, structure of forces and innovative approaches to security is such as cyber."
In his meeting with HE Mrs Kersti Kaljulaid, General Pavel acknowledged the benefits of mutual support, adding that “Estonia stands by NATO and NATO stands by Estonia. NATO and Estonia have shared a relationship based on mutual respect and an understanding that enhanced security is in everyone’s best interest. Your whole-of-government approach to defence is impressive, you lead by example, by honouring the Pledge made at the Wales Summit and spending more than 2% of your GDP on defence and investing in modern capabilities”.
Before heading to Tartu, General Pavel stopped by the NATO Cyber Centre of Excellence where he received a tour and presentation by its director, Ms Merle Maigre and members of the team. The Centre of Excellence is an intricate part of NATO’s efforts to respond to a growing cyber threat. The Chairman stressed that “Estonia plays a leading role in cyber defence, through the Centre of Excellence and the NATO Cyber Range. The Alliance benefits greatly from your expertise in cyber defence-related research, training and exercises, technology, strategy, operations, international law and many more areas”.
The Chairman also took the opportunity to visit the Baltic Defence College where he received a brief about the College from its Commandant, Major General Andis Dilãns and his staff. General Pavel also gave a lecture to the joint command and general staff on “NATO today and tomorrow” and took time to have a discussion on current security challenges.
General Pavel concluded his trip with a visit to the NATO enhanced Forward Presence (eFP) Battle Group stationed in Tapa alongside the Estonian 1st Infantry Brigade. The Battle Group is currently led by the United Kingdom, with contributions from Denmark and Iceland. "NATO’s eFP Battle Groups in the three Baltic States and in Poland demonstrate the strength of the transatlantic bond and make it clear that an attack on one Ally would be considered an attack on the whole Alliance. The Battle Groups are also an excellent example of interoperability among NATO Nations," stated General Pavel.