Welcoming remarks

by the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Estonia, Urmas Paet at the Informal meeting of NATO Foreign Ministers - Tallinn, Estonia

  • 22 Apr. 2010
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  • Last updated: 22 Apr. 2010 18:21

Thank you, Mister Secretary General, Dear Colleagues, Dear Friends, I'm extremely happy to host you. And we're fortunate to welcome you here under the Estonian sky. After all we had to live through during last days. In short, it has been a major lesson for all of us. But likely the day we have awaited has finally come.

Judging from the history of this city, it is not an exaggeration to say that it has been anticipating this moment even since it was founded. The city of 800 year's colourful and rich history has experienced both ups and downs.

Medieval Tallinn was one of the best fortified cities in Europe. And as a proof of that, all visitors to our old town can observe the defence structures that have protected Tallinn from being destroyed in wars. The unique town wall with its bastions and gates that are almost entirely intact even today.

In this city we have for example the most powerfull canon tower in 16th century in Northern Europe, Kiek in de Kök or "Peek into the Kitchen", just high enough to glance into the kitchens of neighbouring buildings. Now at the beginning of the 21st century we are living in the most peaceful times that our city or whole country all of Europe and the whole TransAtlantic area have ever experienced.

NATO is here and it has given us sense of pursued security. Our security does not rely on building walls or tunnels. Quite opposite. We stand on firm ground, thanks to our indispensable values: democracy, solidarity, openness and the commitments that we share. This is the reason why NATO has developed into the strongest and most unique defence organization in the world.

I am convinced that its cornerstone is the principle of collective defence stated in Article 5 and our commitment to that. And not only in our words but also in our deeds. It is important to reiterate this core principle as there are so many new and challenging security issues to be addressed.

Our late president, Mister Lennart Meri, a man with a great vision, has said: "Entering a zone of stability, democracy and prosperity virtually guarantees that the countries admitted to NATO will concentrate on issues of the future rather than on the wounds of the past."

This is the main reason why we are gathered here today and tomorrow. I look forward to the good discussions regarding the NATO's new strategic concept. This is especially important for Estonia as we are participating in the shaping of the Alliance's fundamental strategy for the first time.

There are other substantial issues to be discussed here in Tallinn such as missile defence or nuclear issues; NATO reform; as well as further enlargement of our Alliance; and relations with Russia.

Tomorrow, I'm happy to welcome our ISAF partners to evaluate and update our activities in Afghanistan. These debates will prepare for the Lisbon Summit later this year.

Although, we have a very busy schedule ahead of us for the next two days, I would like to invite you all to take a tour in our home town to explore the unique blend of historic ambiance and northern cutting edge culture, literally to peek into the kitchen.

And dear friends I wish you a pleasant stay here in Tallinn and welcome you back for example next year when Tallinn will have even more to offer as the European capital of culture. Warmly welcome.