The Estonian Delegation to the NATO Parliamentary Assembly (PA) participated in the Spring Session of the Assembly in Warsaw, which ended today. The last item on the agenda was the adoption of the joint declaration on affirming NATO’s unity and credibility.
Head of the Estonian Delegation Marko Mihkelson said that the Standing Committee had exhibited rare, but valuable unanimity by admitting that Russia’s constant non-compliance with the fundamental principles of the rules-based international order posed a serious threat to the whole Alliance.
Mihkelson added that increasing of defence expenditure was the only topic that caused a somewhat sharper debate between the NATO delegations. “From the point of view of more equal burden sharing and transatlantic relations, it is very important that the Declaration contains a reference to the need to increase defence spending in real terms and move towards the guideline of two percent of GDP, not just strive for it,” Mihkelson said. “This is significant, because a softer wording would have meant a step backwards for NATO PA.”
The joint declaration also speaks of commitment to Article 5 of the North Atlantic Treaty, enhancing of deterrence, the fight against terrorism, NATO-EU cooperation, modernising the Alliance, the Open Door policy, and connecting NATO with its citizens. NATO PA President Paolo Alli will present the declaration at the coming NATO Summit in Brussels on 11–12 July. The text of the declaration on affirming NATO unity and credibility was approved by the Standing Committee, the governing body of the Assembly.
Besides the Marshals of the Senate and the Sejm, President of Poland Andrej Duda and Prime Minster of Poland Mateusz Morawiecki spoke at the Plenary Sitting today. There was also a traditional debate with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg. According to Stoltenberg, one of the priorities of the NATO Summit in Brussels is finding solutions for ensuring swift troop reinforcements as necessary. In the opinion of the Secretary General, it has an important role in strengthening NATO deterrence on the Eastern flank of the Alliance.
Reports on topical issues, including NATO deterrence on the Eastern flank of the Alliance, were presented at the Spring Session, which started with the sittings of the NATO PA committees on Saturday. Deputy Head of the Estonian Delegation Ants Laaneots considered the messages delivered by former Polish minister of defence Antoni Macierewicz and leaders of the Polish defence forces regarding the steps of the country to strengthen its land, air and naval forces and increase defence spending to be of great importance. In his opinion, increasing the number of the allied troops in Suwałki region in Poland is a good example of that.
Laaneots said that his conversations with the leaders of the Polish defence forces took place in a very unanimous and understanding atmosphere, and added that Poland took its role in contributing to the security of NATO’s Eastern flank very seriously. “It is important also for Estonia, and a very good example of how NATO’s European allies have to take steps to ensure their security themselves, and only then rely on the assistance of the Alliance,” Laaneots said.
Oudekki Loone and Hannes Hanso were also members of the Estonian delegation at the NATO PA Spring Session in Warsaw. The Annual Session of the NATO Parliamentary Assembly will be held in November in Halifax, Canada.
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