Defence minister: Estonia owes extraordinary debt to John McCain

Defence Minister Jüri Luik (Pro Patria) told ERR's "Aktuaalne kaamera" newscast on Sunday that as a small country, Estonia owes an extraordinary debt to US Senator John McCain, who passed away on Saturday.

Republican Senator and former presidential candidate, John McCain died on Saturday. McCain suffered from a brain tumour. He was 81 years old.

Defence Minister Jüri Luik told ERR in his interview that McCain was a politician with a global reach who decisively influenced both his country's home affairs as well as global politics.

"He was the one who represented and protected democratic values in such a way that the United States had to be the strongest supporter of those values, and use its enormous political and if needed military power to support smaller countries and democracies, and to stand against totalitarian systems," Luik said.

"And of course for Estonia, for a small country in a very difficult geopolitical position, such a strong and powerful US politician, who at the same time wasn't involved fully with the real political responsibilities of the executive branch, played an extraordinarily great role as a kind of moral compass that helped shape the political consensus in the US behind helping eg. Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania become members of NATO," Luik added.

"This was not at all something that came by itself, but something that took a lot of effort, and McCain was at the forefront of this effort," the minister said.

"We should also think here in Estonia how to keep his memory, as we indeed owe a great deal to him as a small country. Looking at the fact that we are in NATO now, I think you don't have to be a security analyst to say what sort of difficulty this has kept us from," Luik said.

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