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Foreign Minister Paet: Budget Concerns in Europe Should Not Be Allowed to Affect European Security

21.05.2012

No. 141-E

While speaking at the Young Atlanticist Summit in Chicago yesterday (http://tinyurl.com/bsgglus), Foreign Minister Urmas Paet said that the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in Afghanistan has reached a critical point and will draw to a close in 2014. “Afghanistan will still need the support of the international community in the future, but the completion of this major mission will allow NATO to focus on future challenges and redefining its principles,” Paet stated.

Paet said that the good health of NATO’s deterrence and defence capabilities is essential in the current situation, when many NATO member states have reduced their defence spending. “Estonia feels defence spending should equal 2% of the GDP, as was previously agreed on,” said Paet. “The European allies have a responsibility to ensure security on the international level, and budgetary problems should not prevent this from happening.”

Paet stated that continued close and meaningful co-operation is necessary to ensure NATO’s deterrence and defence capabilities. “NATO must become more visible all across its territory, for example by organising regular trainings in various regions,” he said. “At the same time, ‘smart defence’ projects are a good example of how member states can economise costs by co-ordinating their activities and avoiding unnecessary overlapping of tasks,” Paet asserted. He added that one good example of smart defence is the Baltic air policing mission.

Paet emphasised that in addition to conventional security threats, NATO must also be prepared to face new challenges. “It is certain that in the future, at least a portion of the fighting during major conflicts will happen in cyberspace,” he stated. “NATO has made progress to be prepared to fight cyber crime, but this should be reflected in NATO’s everyday work even more,” he added. 

NATO’s international activity also requires strong partnership relations, said Paet. “NATO’s new partnership policy geared towards practical co-operation will make co-operation with partners more effective, pragmatic and flexible,” he added.

Paet said that NATO’s open-door policy has been beneficial for security and stability in the Euro-Atlantic region. “We recognise the progress made by NATO candidate countries in carrying out political, economic and security reforms and we hope that the candidate countries of Georgia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro and Macedonia will become NATO members in the future,” he said.

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