by NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg and the Prime Minister of Estonia, Kaja Kallas
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg:
Prime Minister Kallas,
Welcome, it’s great to see you here at NATO.
And Estonia is a highly valued and very much recognised Ally and you participate in different NATO missions and operations.
And you lead by example by spending on 2% of GDP on defence.
You are also providing expertise to Allies and partners through your Cyber Centre of Excellence in Talinn.
We have during our meeting today discussed the different issues, including the preparations for the upcoming Summit and NATO 2030.
We also discussed the situation in Belarus.
The forced landing of a passenger flight by Belarus was dangerous and unacceptable. This is a state hijacking and demonstrates how the regime in Minsk attacks basic democratic rights and cracks down on freedom of expression and independent media.
I welcome the additional measures agreed by the European Union.
There must be an urgent international investigation.
And journalist Raman Pratasevich and his companion Sofia Sapega must be immediately released.
The North Atlantic council will address this issue later today.
We also addressed Ukraine.
While Russia has pulled back some troops, tens of thousands remain in and around Ukraine. As well as significant amounts of weapons.
Russia is also restricting navigation in the Black Sea, including near the Kerch Strait.
This is part of a pattern of aggressive actions, which raise serious concerns.
NATO remains vigilant. We continue to strengthen our deterrence and defence. And support our partners.
We also discussed Afghanistan.
The drawdown of our troops continues in an orderly and coordinated way. At the same time, NATO remains committed to our partnership with Afghanistan. And we will continue to help the Afghan people and contribute to the peace efforts.
Including with continued training and funding of the Afghan security forces.
So Prime Minister, I look forward to welcoming you back to the NATO Summit in June here in Brussels.
The Summit is a unique opportunity to strengthen the vital bond between Europe and North America, and prepare our Alliance for the future.
I know that I can count on Estonia to play its part. And Estonia can always rely on NATO.
Allied jets keep your skies safe. Allied ships patrol the Baltic Sea. And NATO’s battlegroups in the region prevent conflict and preserve peace.
This shows the strength of the unity of our Alliance.
So once again, welcome. It’s good to have you here and it’s good to know that we again can travel and that I was able to meet you here in Brussels.
Prime Minister of Estonia, Ms. Kaja Kallas:
Yes. Dear Secretary General, thank you for hosting me here in Brussels and indeed it's such a pleasure to meet in person not only via video.
I want to emphasize that NATO is and will remain a cornerstone of Estonia’s and Euro-Atlantic security.
Estonia is an active and constructive Ally. We stick to our commitments to promote peace and international security.
Today we have more than 100 Estonian servicemen deployed to various international operations around the world, including Afghanistan and Iraq.
At the meeting with the Secretary General today, I reconfirmed that Estonia is committed to maintaining the defence spending at 2% of GDP. I think it's crucial to increase the common funding for collective defence and Estonia is prepared to uphold the commitments we have undertaken in the international community and in NATO.
The building blocks of our Alliance are solidarity and unity. Estonia is very grateful to the Allies, for showing unity and contributing to the Enhanced Forward Presence, the Baltic Air-Policing mission, the Centre of Excellence, and other NATO activities in our region. We are proud to host Allies in Estonia, and are committed to offer them the best host nation support.
We also discussed at length the forthcoming NATO Summit and how to strengthen our most important task, collective defence and deterrence.
From the Estonian perspective, it is important that the work on NATO's military readiness will continue. There's no doubt NATO will remain the pillar of transatlantic unity and security.
I'm certain we will send a strong message of our unity and enduring transatlantic bond. Hereby I would like to thank Mr. Stoltenberg, who has led the reflection process on NATO's future and come up with a NATO 2030 agenda.
NATO must remain vigilant against the threat posed by Russia. Recent build-up in and around Ukraine, or the operations carried out on the soil of NATO’s Allies, is extremely worrying. Therefore NATO must also continue supporting Russia's neighbors, especially those who are the most exposed to Russian pressure like Ukraine and Georgia.
I also believe that NATO must keep up the pace with the change, adapt to new challenges, beat emerging and disruptive technologies, the effect of climate change on security or cyber policy. Estonia is ready to be at the forefront of those discussions.
I'm looking forward to meeting you again, Secretary General, and also meeting my other colleagues in NATO summit next month here in Brussels and discuss the issues in depth with all the Allies. The more we work together, the stronger we are. Thank you.