Estonian Prime Minister visits NATO Headquarters

  • 18 May. 2011 -
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  • Last updated: 18 May. 2011 11:10

On 18 May, Estonian Prime Minister Andrus Ansip visited NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen at NATO Headquarters in Brussels to discuss key issues such as current operations, Smart Defence and emerging security challenges.

Joint Press Point with NATO Secretary General, Anders Fogh Rasmussen Left to right: Andrus Ansip (Prime Minister of Estonia) shaking hands with NATO Secretary General, Anders Fogh Rasmussen following their joint press point

“I have taken this opportunity to express my appreciation of Estonia’s contribution to NATO operations,” the Secretary General said, adding, “Estonia has kept up its contributions despite very difficult economic circumstances.”

Estonia has committed an infantry company to NATO’s operation in Afghanistan and is home to a NATO Centre of Excellence in cyber defence. Estonia also gives political support to NATO’s operations in Libya. Prime Minister Ansip said Estonia would keep its troops in Afghanistan for as long as they are needed and as long as they are welcome.

“Difficult economic times make defence consultation more important than ever. NATO nations need Smart Defence: they need to talk and plan together to make sure they keep capabilities which they would not be able to afford alone,” the Secretary General said.

The Secretary General praised Estonia’s determination to bring its defence spending up to the agreed NATO level of 2 per cent of gross domestic product (GDP) despite severe economic challenges, and highlighted its defence cooperation with its neighbours.

“Estonia’s coordination of defence policies with Allies and partners in the Baltic and Nordic region is an excellent example of how smart defence can work,” Rasmussen said.

Prime Minister Ansip thanked NATO for its Baltic air policing mission, under which Allies take it in turns to provide security for the air space of the Baltic states.

“The air policing operation is really important for all Estonian people. Air policing is visible evidence talking about the NATO presence to every Estonian,” he said.