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Foreign Minister Urmas Paet: Long-Term Continuation of NATO Air Policing Mission is Vitally Important to Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania

20.01.2012

No. 11-E

At his meeting in Tallinn today with NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen, Foreign Minister Urmas Paet emphasised that the long-term continuation of the NATO air policing mission is vitally important to Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania. “Air policing is a good example of the allies’ solidarity and joint contribution to ensuring security,” said Paet. The NATO mission that guards the airspace of the Baltic states is also one of the best examples of the principle of smart defence.

According to Foreign Minister Paet, the discussions that take place every few years over the necessity of the mission and whether to extend it are a waste of both our and our allies’ time and human resources. “Therefore we feel that a decision regarding the long-term continuation of the air policing mission should be made by the Chicago summit at the latest,” he said.

Paet said that taking into account the context of declining defence spending and the USA’s changing security strategy, it is important that at the Chicago summit the allied countries confirm their dedication to guaranteeing common security within the framework of trans-atlantic relations. “It is essential to increase NATO’s trainings and visibility,” Paet added. Other important topics for Estonia at the springtime NATO summit are strengthening cyber security in NATO and continuing with the open-door policy.

During their meeting, the Estonian foreign minister and the NATO secretary general also addressed the importance of partnership relations. “NATO is not a closed alliance, but rather has created close contacts with countries that share the alliance’s values and goals. Co-operation with NATO gives our partners an opportunity to make military and financial contributions to NATO-led missions,” Paet said, mentioning Georgia’s strong contribution to the NATO mission in Afghanistan as an example. He added that this is why it is important to use the Chicago summit framework as an opportunity to give greater recognition to our partners and to further develop partnership relations.

Paet and Rasmussen emphasised that the springtime NATO summit must also give a clear message to Afghanistan regarding the continuation of support after the year 2014. “At the same time, the Afghan government must also demonstrate its dedication to building up the country through concrete activities. Prerequisites for stabilising the situation in Afghanistan are a realistic view of the country’s future and the government’s efforts to earn the trust of the people,” Paet asserted. “After the end of the military phase of the mission, Estonia will likely continue its military contribution with staff officers and mentors. Estonia will also continue its development aid activities. In terms of development co-operation, Afghanistan is a long-term priority for Estonia,” he added.


Photos from the meeting: http://www.flickr.com/photos/estonian-foreign-ministry

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