At his meeting today with Assistant Secretary of State for Arms Control of the United States of America Rose Gottemoeller, Foreign Minister Urmas Paet expressed hope that negotiations on reducing tactical nuclear weapons in Europe and on Europe’s conventional arms control regime would begin soon. “The START Treaty between the USA and Russia coming into effect is a very important step, but progress also needs to be made regarding tactical nuclear weapons and conventional arms control,” he said. “We are interested in the arms control negotiations between the United States and Russia continuing, and we feel it is important that during these negotiations the security balance in Europe and the security interests of NATO allies are taken into consideration,” Paet added.
While talking about co-operation in NATO, Foreign Minister Paet said that NATO’s position as a deterrent must not be weakened. “The ongoing development and strengthening of NATO’s deterrent powers for collective defence must remain the priority of the allies,” the foreign minister asserted. During the meeting Paet emphasised that it is essential to continue the work of the NATO-Russia council. “We see opportunities for success in the area of practical co-operation—for example, co-operation in Afghanistan, the fight against terrorism, fighting against piracy, and preventing the illegal spread of weapons of mass destruction. However, this also requires greater openness on Russia’s part,” he said.
Foreign Minister Paet stated that Estonia highly values the USA’s efforts to restore the regime of the Conventional Forces in Europe Treaty (CFE).
Gottemoeller recognised Estonia for managing to keep its defence expenditure close to 2% of the GDP, even during economically difficult times.
Paet: Discussions on Conventional Arms Control Are Essential