Updated: 26-Mar-2003 NATO Speeches


26 March 2003


by Ms. Kristiina Ojuland,
Minister of Foreign Affairs of Estonia
At the Signing Ceremony of Accession Protocols
to the North Atlantic Treaty

Mr. Chairman,
Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,

It is a great honor to be here in NATO Headquarters at the signing ceremony of the Protocols of Accession to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization of the seven countries invited in Prague -- the latest addition to NATO, to our common NATO family.

This is a great achievement for my country and my people, as it is indeed an achievement for all of us present here today. The forthcoming enlargement by seven countries is not only bold; it truly is a historic step towards Europe free, whole and at peace.

We never would have come this far had it not been bur common goal and endeavor with friends and partners already in the Alliance. Thank you for your effort and trust in us.

At this symbolic moment I would like to take the opportunity to reconfirm our dedication to reform and to the organization we have so earnestly worked to join.

We recently had a general election in Estonia, on Inarch 2.1 am representing a Government that will very soon be referred to as a previous Government. But, judging by the way the coalition negotiations are proceeding, I feel confident that the work done by this Government will continue and the commitment to spend 2% of our GDP on defense will be honored and fulfilled by the new Government.

Our commitment to reform is laid down in our Timetable for Reforms. I have every reason to believe that the next Government is going to follow in the footsteps of all previous Estonian Governments and do the groundwork needed for full and effective integration with the Alliance.

I would also like to take the opportunity to make a remark on an issue that has drawn some extra attention recently - the issue of information security and relevant procedures in acceding countries. I would like to stress that Estonia is fully aware of the responsibility that handling NATO information brings with it. We attach particular importance to streamlining procedures and preparing an adequate number of personnel with the necessary security clearances.

If my words have sounded too confident, I have to add that we are fully aware of the fact that we are not there yet. There is one more defining phase that we must go through. We must receive confirmation from our respective Parliaments that NATO is ready and willing to enlarge and that the incomers are ready to join.

This final hurdle is a crucial one, a moment of truth for the whole process that we have so strenuously worked for in the last 10 years, and I hope that our countries will pass the test with flying colours. We on our part will do our best to this end.

I would like to conclude by stressing that we would never have come this far without the vision of Secretary General Lord Robertson whom I recently had the pleasure of seeing in Estonia.

All of your visits left a lasting impression on Estonians. We owe you a great deal for your relentless pursuit of your vision of New Europe and New NATO.

Ladies and Gentlemen, thank you for your attention.

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