"In Narva, just like any other place in Estonia, entrepreneurship and enterprises are important, as these translate into jobs and the ability of people to have a livelihood," said President Toomas Hendrik Ilves who yesterday and today visited several different companies in various fields of business in the border town.
"Narva has now become one of the most modern and most technologically advanced border crossing points with the biggest and fastest capacity," acknowledged the President, Toomas Hendrik Ilves, who today inspected the border crossing and customs point in Narva with Ieva Ilves.
Today, at the conclusion of the 34th Estonian National Defence Course (ENDC) at Roosta, Minister of Defence Hannes Hanso said that NATO is in the process of going back to those basic values that served as the reason for its creation – the Defence of Europe.
“Today, Allied aircraft taking part in air policing are stationed at Ämari Air Base, Allied ground forces are training there. The truth of the matter – that the threat of war has not disappeared from Europe – has resurfaced once again due to the unpredictable and aggressive behaviour of the Kremlin,” said Hanso. “In addition to actual contributions to increasing our security, we expect to see a change in the common narrative of the Alliance at NATO’s Warsaw Summit. What we are talking about here is not only the defence of Estonia’s borders, but also NATO’s borders. We have to get over the idea of someone coming to protect Estonia. Alliance members protect NATO territory, no matter where the challenges on the border may be,” said Hanso.
According to Hanso, Estonia’s objectives at the Warsaw Summit are to obtain growth in the presence of Allies in the region, the prepositioning of supplies and equipment here, and that our regional security threats should be a part of NATO's long-term planning process.
“We must be able to convince our allies that, when necessary, we all must contribute to something which is perhaps located far away from us, but which affects our lives and security. Each Alliance member must also support security on their own,” said Hanso. “Estonia is a valued partner among its allies, fulfilling the promises it has made and not seeking to simply consume collective security; but instead being ready, to the best of its ability, to contribute to its creation. We are one of those allies who have had to contribute 2% of GDP to national defence, and we are participating in several foreign missions, creating security outside of our immediate borders.“
The purpose of the Estonian National Defence Course, which concluded today, in Roosta, is to introduce Estonia’s security, foreign and defence policies, as well as its broad-based national defence concept, to an audience of Estonian politicians, senior state officials and servicemen, top economic and opinion leaders, cultural and educational practitioners, journalists and NGOs, in order to enhance cooperation and social cohesion in the field of national defence.
During the weeklong course participants received an overview of the state of international affairs in our region, military national defence, internal security and broad-based national defence and the newest developments in the military. Course participants also learned about the capabilities of Ämari Air Base.
The Estonian National Defence Course has been held since 1999. To date, some 1800 people have completed the biannual course.
President Toomas Hendrik Ilves and Ieva Ilves will make a working visit to Ida-Viru County today and tomorrow.
Yesterday, at their meeting in Stockholm, Nordic and Baltic undersecretaries of the ministries of defence admitted that the views of the countries concerning the regional security situation and cooperation are uniform and there is a consensus regarding these fields, regardless of whether the parties belong to NATO or not.
During the meeting, in which U.S. Deputy Secretary of Defense Bob Work also participated, a thorough discussion took place regarding the regional security situation and various defence cooperation formats. A collective look ahead at the NATO Summit in Warsaw was also taken, along with the impact of the decisions that will be made there on security for the region.
At the press conference, U.S. Deputy Secretary of Defense Bob Work stated that he received strong confirmation at the meeting of the fact that together we are stronger than apart and that together it is possible to strengthen the current methods of deterrence.
“Together, we are going to be able to make sure that we have a very secure, safe Baltic and high-north region in which all the citizens of all of our countries will live prosperously and safely," said Work.
According to Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Defence Jonatan Vseviov, the participation of such a high-ranking official from the United States in a security-related meeting for our region demonstrates that the region is a priority for the United States.
“It is worth noting how important NATO's largest member considers our regional security questions to be," said Vseviov. “We have held continuous working level consultations with the United States on the topic of regional security; recently U.S. Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter hosted Estonian Minister of Defence Hannes Hanso, in Washington, and now the number two official at the Pentagon is participating in our meeting.“
The Nordic-Baltic co-operation or NB8 is a regional co-operation format that includes 8 countries: Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Iceland, Finland, Latvia, Lithuania, and Estonia. The countries perform continuous defence related cooperation among themselves and representatives from various levels meet at regular intervals to exchange information and facilitate further cooperation.
Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Defence, Jonatan Vseviov, hosted his Latvian colleague, Jānis Garisons, with whom possibilities for enhanced defence cooperation were mapped out.
The two discussed the topics of the approaching NATO Summit in Warsaw, questions concerning NATO's defensive positions and methods of deterrence, as well as bilateral and Baltic defence cooperation.
“I am happy to confirm that our views on the questions discussed are practically identical. Close defence related cooperation, as well as the presence of allies in the region, is very important to Estonian and Latvian security," said Vseviov. “We will continue to monitor developments concerning the security situation of the region and cooperate closely together. At the same time, I was pleased to be able to congratulate my colleague on Latvia’s consistent increase of its defence budget.”
Today, the Secretary of State of the Ministry of Defence of Latvia visited the 1st Infantry Brigade’s Tapa armed forces campus, where Brigade Commander Lieutenant Colonel Veiko-Vello Palm gave an overview of the Brigade’s development plans and introduced the city’s infrastructure.
At their meeting in Tallinn, Minister of Defence Hannes Hanso and Belgian Defence Minister Steven Vandeput discussed the security situation in the Baltic Sea region and across Europe, and the ministers spoke about further defence related cooperation and the fight against terrorism.
“The contribution by the Kingdom of Belgium to the security of Estonia and the entire Baltic Sea region as a whole is a shining example of NATO’s collective defence,” said Minister of Defence Hannes Hanso. “Estonia is truly grateful for the active contribution to our air policing by NATO member Belgium. “
F-16 fighter aircraft from the Kingdom of Belgium were the first Allied aircraft to begin air policing from Siauliai, immediately after Estonia's accession to NATO in 2004. This is the sixth time that fighters from the Kingdom of Belgium are participating in air policing in Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, and Poland, and the first time they are doing so using aircraft stationed at Ämari Air Base. Belgian F-16 fighter aircraft were previously stationed at air bases in Lithuania and Poland.
Belgian anti-aircraft personnel have participated on numerous occasions in live fire exercises with the Mistral Short-Range Air-Defence Missile Systems in the Estonian training exercise Kevadtorm. A Belgian anti-aircraft subunit will also be participating in the Kevadtorm training exercise beginning next week. Belgian Navy ships have for years been participating alongside Estonian Navy ships in NATO Mine Countermeasures Group 1.
Defence Minister Steven Vandeput confirmed that at the beginning of next year Belgium will be sending a representative to serve in the NATO Cooperative Cyber Defence Centre of Excellence and plans to participate in air policing on a rotating basis.
During their meeting, the defence ministers discussed bilateral security related cooperation, preparations for the NATO Summit in Warsaw, the security situation in the Baltic Sea region and across Europe, the situation in the Middle East and the fight against terrorism.
During his visit to Estonia, Steven Vandeput will meet with Commander of the Defence Forces Lieutenant General Riho Teras and Chairman of the National Defence Committee of the Riigikogu Marko Mihkelson; he will visit the NATO Cooperative Cyber Defence Centre of Excellence, meet with members of the Belgian Air Force stationed at Ämari Air Base, and lay a wreath at the War of Independence Memorial. Members of the Belgian Parliament’s National Defence Committee are accompanying the Minister of Defence on his trip to Estonia.
Today in Kadriorg President Toomas Hendrik Ilves accepted Letters of Credence from the Ambassador of the Kyrgyz Republic, Kubanychbek Omuraliev, who resides in Minsk; the Ambassador of the Republic of Indonesia, Wiwiek Setyawati Firman, who resides in Helsinki, the Ambassador of the Republic of Slovenia, Robert Krmelj, who resides in Warsaw and the Ambassador of the People's Republic of Bangladesh, Muhammad Abdul Muhith, who resides in Copenhagen.