eesti keeles

Open in print mode

The President of the Republic at the Conference "Building a Strategic Community Through Education and Research" on 16 June 2003 in Berlin

Honourable Mr Chairman,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

First, I would like to greet the organisers and participants of the conference gathered here, in Berlin, the capital of Germany. Three years ago, the participants in the 3rd Conference of the Consortium were welcomed by the Hanseatic City of Tallinn.

This forum, which brings together both analysts and practitioners, offers praiseworthy opportunities to deal with the most essential issue ever - peace and security in the world. Irrespective of the level from which we start - global, regional, national, or, be it for my sake, the family level - security, stability and a sense of safety are the keywords, which throughout centuries have mattered most to people, but to which we often pay enough heed only when the threat of war looms.

Security consists of a number of qualities. With respect to the future, we require a sense of security - so that we and our children would have air to breathe, water to drink and food to eat, and so that we can live in an environment fit for human beings. That's where stability and security in a broad sense begin. Modern science and technology must serve sustainable development.

Due to globalization, no region of the world and no small country, even if apparently remote and peaceful, can feel safe and protected. Another way of saying this is that security is indivisible. That also applies to both Europe in general and to the Baltic Sea region and Estonia located there in particular. Therefore, I thank you for this excellent chance of sharing with you my ideas on security and stability in Europe and in one of its parts - the Baltic Sea region.

Al Qaeda's recent threat issued to Norway should open the eyes of all those who have so far thought that terrorism was a problem for just a few countries, who have been under the illusion that we, living in the peaceful North, not disturbing anybody, are not concerned by today's threats.

The Baltic Sea region is renowned for its successful economic and social development and strong growth. However, geographically is Estonia quite close to the northern edge of Europe. Throughout history, our country, which is open to the sea and lies at North-European crossroads, has been exposed to various threats. And I suppose that it is our historical experience that allows us to view the present and future world through a somewhat peculiar prism.

The architecture of relations in our region is facing significant changes: Poland, Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia will, we hope, soon be admitted to the European Union, and the three Baltic States are poised to join NATO. Of the ten Member States of the Council of the Baltic Sea States, only Norway, Iceland and Russia will remain outside the European Union, and Finland, Sweden and Russia outside NATO.

It is obvious that the capability of the Baltic Sea states and international organisations to react to crises and to combat terrorism and organized crime must be strengthened. What is needed is a still closer cooperation among us.

As I noted earlier, Estonia operates from the assumption that security is indivisible. The Baltic Sea region is an inseparable part of Europe in terms of security as well. We feel our great responsibility but also perceive changes in the security situation elsewhere in Europe. The fight against terrorism persuades us that just as a chef cannot cook a soup that is thicker in one part of the kettle than in any other part, security in one part of the continent cannot be stronger than it is in any other part. This is what I we mean when I say that security is indivisible.

Taking this into consideration, we attach importance also to cooperation with all those countries, which, although not lying directly on the Baltic Sea, influence the situation around it. As an acceding EU and NATO member, we are ready to cooperate with everyone who seeks to strengthen security in the region.

NATO's active presence in the Baltic Sea region and its deepening cooperation with the region's non-member countries is most important to us for several reasons. We are interested in stability and the evolution of democracy in the region. Through friendly cooperation with non-NATO members in the fields of economy, culture, environment, security, and any other field, we can enhance understanding and strengthen processes of democratic development.

Being a small country, we are all too aware of the need for collective and cooperative security. Building on that, we don't contrast different relationships or different partners with each other. Our Transatlantic relations are developing in parallel with good relations in Europe as a whole and in the Baltic Sea region in particular.

At this point, I would highlight the smooth cooperation among Finnish, Russian and Estonian border guards who train on a regular basis rescue at sea and carry out other activities needed to improve their efficiency. On top of that, under the Vienna Document we are implementing a system of additional military inspections with Russia.

Ladies and Gentleman,

The Transatlantic bond could be termed the backbone of NATO. However, the calcium strengthening this backbone derives not from disagreement but from the understanding that we are the best possible allies for each other.

This backbone would also be strengthened if we in Europe would approach the threats existing in the world more seriously, if we could see the need to tackle these threats and if we, at the same time, were ready to contribute our own resources more effectively than we thus far have. In Estonia, several governments over the last years have kept the promise that 2% of our GDP is to be spent on defence. I am pleased to inform you that our people see the importance of this notable contribution and that 70% of them think that our defence expenditures should be kept at the present level or should even be increased.

These are some of the reasons why I think that promoting the European Security and Defence Policy is vital. Not less important is that the cooperation among the countries that share the values of liberal democracy strengthened and became more equal.

The European Security and Defence Policy should be shaped in such a way as to avoid obligations not covered by existing capabilities. Otherwise, the meaning of promises and obligations would melt away leaving behind a complicated net of many empty and contradictory security promises.

There has been a lot of talk of the strength of the transatlantic bond and I, too, have spoken about this most important issue.
At this point, one might ask why the Central and East-European countries attach such importance to this bond.

On the one hand, we have often heard about the reason based on emotions. Due to the wheel of time and the waning of certain generations, there are not so many left in the western parts of Europe of those having personal memories of the Marshall Plan. In Germany, the number of people having experienced live the speech by John Kennedy in front of the Town Hall of Schöneberg on 26 June 1963 and his famous "Ich bin ein Berliner" is not too big either.

Yet, in the new democracies of Central and Eastern Europe for a very large number of people Ronald Reagan's Evil Empire Speech was one of the most decisive moments in their early years.

On the other hand, we must admit that most of the EU and NATO designated member countries are small and many of them have quite limited resources. Even so, I suppose that not unlike Estonia many other countries in Europe and across the world feel encouraged by developments indicating that tensions are lessening. By that, I mean the developments in Iraq, Afghanistan, Cyprus and Balkans.

Peace means more than just a truce. It also means a safe society where there is no place for crime and drug trafficking. It also means mutual deference and respect for the language and culture of other peoples; it also means tolerance towards other faiths and religions.
This list could be continued at great length.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

In conclusion, I would briefly reiterate: sustainable security in Europe can only be achieved if Europe is regarded as a whole. Security and stability are not simply God's gift to humanity, security is a quality that requires constant nurturing; it cannot be created once and for all, but it can be lost as a result of imprudence and inaction.

I wish all of you strength, and I do hope that cooperation in our region will continue in an atmosphere of mutual trust, assistance and exchange of ideas.

Thank you for your attention.

© 2006 Office of the President l tel: + 372 631 6202 l fax: + 372 631 6250 l