Updated: 26-Mar-2003 March 2003

24 Mar. 2003


Lord Robertson visits Estonia

NATO Secretary General Lord Robertson wrapped up his tour of the seven countries currently invited to join the Alliance with a visit to Estonia on 24 March.

The Secretary General met the President of Estonia, Mr. Arnold Ruutel, the Prime Minister, Mr. Siim Kallas, and the Foreign and Defence Ministers. He also addressed the Estonian Atlantic Treaty Association.

Lord Robertson congratulated Estonia on its invitation to join NATO, but called on the government to continue with key reforms. He pointed out that Estonia, like the other invitees, is facing a double challenge of having to keep up political and military reforms and to “jump onto a moving train” - a NATO that is transforming.

“The Alliance that you will be joining next year will not just be much bigger in size. It will also differ in many other respects from the NATO of the past,” he said, “It will be an Alliance determined to deal with the defining new security threats of this 21st century – terrorism and weapons of mass destruction.”

The Secretary General highlighted in particular the need for Estonia to integrate its ethnic minorities in public life, economic activity and political decision-making and to continue its military transformation. In this regard, he welcomed the government’s commitment to maintain defence spending at 2 per cent of Estonia’s Gross Domestic Product and to further review its armed forces.

Estonia is expected to join NATO by May 2004 along with the other six invited countries: Bulgaria, Latvia, Lithuania, Romania, Slovakia and Slovenia.

Additional information:

  • Speech by NATO Secretary General Lord Robertson at the Estonian Atlantic Treaty Organisation, 24 March 2003