Estonian Minister of Defence Sven Mikser said at a meeting with his visiting Georgian counterpart Tinatin Khidasheli that Estonia understands Georgia’s difficult geopolitical situation – above all in the sense of its relationship with Russia – and fully supports Georgia's aspirations for NATO and EU membership.
Mikser said Estonia engages in constant cooperation with allies in order to support Georgia’s strivings in integration with the transatlantic space. “It is also clear that no third party outside of NATO and the EU member states can influence Georgia’s integration with these organizations,” said Mikser. “This process is not a simple or rapid one for Georgia, but Estonia supports Georgia in every sense on this road.”
Mikser praised Georgia’s outstanding role in NATO operations, especially ISAF in Afghanistan. “Georgia has shown its ability to support the strengthening of international security,” said Mikser.
Georgian Minister of Defence Khidasheli said at the meeting that Georgia had a firm desire to achieve NATO and EU membership. “If these organizations have the political will to accept us as members, we will be able to fulfil all of the necessary requirements,” said Khidasheli. “Georgia deserves a better future.”
The defence ministers also discussed the security situation in the region, above all with regard to Russia’s aggressive foreign policy. Mikser stressed that it was important to show that allied relationships were strong and that the alliance’s members were ready to stand up to aggression.
“We have to deter Putin’s regime militarily, as in recent years Russia has repeatedly shown readiness to use military force as a means of achieving foreign policy goals,” said Mikser. “Russia’s neo-imperialistic attitude toward its neighbours will not change, at least while Putin is in power.”
Khidasheli emphasized that Georgia’s goal is to avoid war with Russia through deterrence. Yet Russia has continued its aggression by occupying new parts of Georgia and establishing Berlin Wall type fortifications along the borders.
“Our country cannot develop in the absence of security guarantees. Right now, Russia’s aggression threatens our infrastructure, power generation and other walks of life. If the international community shows weakness to Russia with regard to developments in Georgia, this could provoke future conflicts.”
Estonia has provided longstanding support for Georgia in reforms of their security sector and the process if integration with Euro-Atlantic structures.
One of the most important fields of bilateral cooperation is cyber security – the Ministry of Defence is spearheading a cyber training project with Georgia, funded by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs development cooperation funds. For years, Estonia has supported senior defence courses held in Georgia and Georgian exchange students at the Baltic Defence College. Cooperation also takes place between the volunteer military organizations. In cooperation with Danish partners, the Estonian Defence League has provided training to Georgian national guard instructors. Estonia has contributed regularly to the NATO ERW clearance programme in Georgia.