Estonian Minister of Defence Margus Tsahkna met the Dutch Minister of Defence, Ms Jeanine Hennis-Plasschaert on the sidelines of the Munich Security Conference on Saturday, to discuss European defence spending and the Estonian priorities for the Estonian Presidency of the Council of the European Union.
The Netherlands is an important partner to Estonia in the realm of defence procurements. "In 2014 Estonia signed a contract to procure 44 Infantry Fighting Vehicles CV90 from the Netherlands. The first 14 vehicles arrived in Estonia already at the end of last year and will already take part in the Estonian Independence Day parade on 24 February" said minister Tsahkna.
Tsahkna thanked minister Plasschaert for the Netherlands’ contribution to the Baltic Air Policing mission and invited Dutch airmen to conduct air policing and training from Ämari. The Netherlands is currently conducting air policing from Lithuania using the F-16 fighter aircraft, but is gradually shifting to F-35 fighters.
The Netherlands is a good partner to Estonia on issues of security and defence. "Our bilateral defence cooperation with the Netherlands is close, but procurement programs and joint operations have brought us even closer," added Tsahkna. Another great example of defence cooperation is both countries’ participation in the UK-led Joint Expeditionary Force (JEF).
The ministers discussed also the Estonian priorities for the Estonian Presidency of the Council of the European Union, among which the raising of defence spending among European Union nations has an important place. The Netherlands has already shared their experiences from their Presidency and are ready to support Estonia during the upcoming Presidency.
The defence expenditures of European Allies was one of the main topics during NATO Defence Ministers’ meeting, as well as during the Munich Security Conference. The Netherlands has confirmed their readiness to raise defence spending. "Estonia and the Netherlands agree that Europe must do more in the field of defence", mentioned Tsahkna.
NATO Allies agreed at the Wales Summit in 2014 that they will raise their defence expenditures to 2% of GDP.
The 55th Munich Security Conference was held on 17-19 February.