At today's critically important debate of a national issue in the Riigikogu, Foreign Minister Urmas Paet emphasized that Estonia must continuously act in the interests of its security. “If we fulfil our international obligations, if Estonia is a good place to live in, then Estonia is protected,” the Foreign Minister said.
As one of the main points of his security overview, the Foreign Minister spoke of the crisis in Ukraine, more specifically of its impacts on Estonia and European security and the possible consequences. The Foreign Minister recalled the Maidan protests, which led to the fall of Ukraine's previous government, the illegal annexation of Crimea, the shooting down of the Malaysian airliner and invasion by Russia forces into eastern Ukraine at the end of August. He explained how aggression from the Russian side prompted the European Union to gradually increase sanctions against Russia and NATO to slowly strengthen its presence in the east wing. According to Foreign Minister Paet, the introduction of Ämari Air Base as the base for Baltic Air Policing, the presence of allied fighters and army units and President Obama's visit are all signs of NATO’s commitment to collective defence. “For us, the NATO summit in Wales was a success, since the Alliance’s strengthened presence in our region was defined as the new norm,” Paet added.
Looking back on the course of the Ukrainian crisis, Paet emphasized that this year's events have helped to consolidate the transatlantic community’s perception of Russia. “If the means for resolving a dispute involves using military force against a neighbour, then we are in a new situation,” the Foreign Minister added.
In this new situation, the question of Europe’s self-image arises. The Foreign Minister stated that this conflict has clearly demonstrated that Europe’s non-contradictory soft power has run up against Russian arms in eastern Ukraine. ”At the upcoming European Union high-level meetings, we need a debate on how to go forward in this situation,” Paet said, and warned against the emergence of a new frozen conflict.
On the subject of the current state of Ukraine's crisis, the Foreign Minister asserted that the fragile ceasefire reached on September 5 must evolve into a complete cessation of hostilities. “We do not approve of any premature alleviation of the European Union's sanctions regime, until there are tangible results,” the Foreign Minister added. The Foreign Minister also emphasized the importance of various missions in helping Ukrainians undertake necessary reforms and build democracy, and the continued great need for humanitarian assistance. “By the end of this year, the total amount of allocations from Estonia to Ukraine for development and humanitarian aid will reach close to one million euros,” the Foreign Minister noted.
Paet: Europe’s positive soft power has clashed with violence