Ratas: Estonia supports increasing allies' defense expenditures

Prime Minister Jüri Ratas (Center), who is to participate in a North Atlantic Council meeting at the heads of state and government level in Brussels on Thursday, said that Estonia supports increasing allies' defense expenditures.

"I am honored to participate in a meeting of NATO heads of state and government leaders for the first time," said Ratas, who will take part in the meeting with Minister of Defence Minister Margus Tsahkna (IRL) and Minister of Foreign Affairs Sven Mikser (SDE). He noted that 28 allied countries along with Montenegro, which is set to join the alliance, will meet to confirm that NATO is and will remain the cornerstone of security in North America and Europe.

Topics to be discussed at the meeting will first and foremost include the fair distribution of burden and NATO's role in the fight against terrorism. The fair distribution of burden above all entails defense expenditure and investments, which means that all allies must fulfill the set criterion of spending two percent of GDP on national defense, 20 percent of which should be put toward major defense procurements.

"Estonia is in favor of a more equal distribution of burden, increasing the defense expenditure of the allies and the continued realization of the NATO defense investment agreement," Ratas said. "Since 2015, Estonia has been contributing at least two percent of GDP to defense, and major defense procurements will make up approximately 20 percent of the defense budget in the next few years. I am glad that fulfilling this goal is also supported by the current ruling coalition's agreement to invest an additional €60 million in national defense."

Topics to be discussed at the meeting also include the fight against terrorism. Ratas said that Estonia is in favor of increasing NATO's activity against terrorism within the framework of the existing mandate and supports NATO as an organization joining the Global Coalition Against Daesh.

The meeting to take place on Thursday was already decided in Warsaw last summer. "This was mostly in order to be able to accept the new building of NATO headquarters from the Belgian government, but this is also an excellent opportunity to meet the new heads of state of the U.S. and France," Ratas said.

The prime minister is scheduled to return to Estonia on Friday afternoon.

Editor: Aili Vahtla

Source: BNS

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