Yesterday, during his presentation at the symposium held at the Centre for Strategic and International Studies, in Washington, D.C., Minister of Defence Margus Tshakna stated that the European Union has taken specific steps over a short period of time in the field of defence cooperation which, among other things, also supports and strengthens NATO.
‘Instability near Europe’s borders and the increasing frequency of terrorist attacks demand more concrete action in order to ensure Europe's security', said Minister of Defence Margus Tshakna.
According to the Minister of Defence, one of Estonia’s priorities during its Presidency of the European Council will be to ensure the availability of better tools for the field of defence. For example, one of its most important goals is to improve the usability of European combat groups, which requires an agreement in order for deployment costs to be divided among all Member States.
‘Combat groups have existed since 2007, although they have never been used. However, our capabilities must be real and usable in our common interests, which also requires common financing', said Tsahkna.
Tsahkna drew attention to the important topic of regular training exercises at the European Union level, in order to practice reacting to crisis situations. ‘In September, at the unofficial meeting of defence ministers in Tallinn, we will be organising a cyber training session in order to practice the functioning of the Union’s mechanisms in this field', said Margus Tshakna.
‘During Estonia’s presidency, the increasing of defence expenditures by European countries will also be on the table. It is clear that the countries are all moving at their own pace, although it is important that development takes place in this direction. In addition, the efficient use of defence expenditures must be ensured’, said Tsahkna, in Washington.
The Minister of Defence also met yesterday with members of the United States House of Representatives Mike Conaway, Ed Royce, Bill Keating, and John Shimkus, who all confirmed that there is bipartisan support in the Senate as well as the House of Representatives for NATO Article 5. Minister of Defence Tsahkna stated that the United States has demonstrated its support for the defence of Europe through its actions, increasing the amount of funding for that purpose.
On Monday, Minister of Defence Margus Tsahkna met in New York with Jean-Pierre Lacroix, United Nations Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations, and Atul Khare, Under-Secretary-General for Field Support (Department of Peacekeeping Operations), in order to discuss the topic of the future of UN international peacekeeping operations.