Tuesday, Minister of Defence of Estonia, Jüri Luik participated in a video conference between the European Union Ministers of Defence, led by High Representative Josep Borrell, which focused on the situation with the EU military missions and the long-term effects of the crisis on the security environment. Also emphasised was the need to be vigilant and avoid the attempts by Russia and China to use the pandemic crisis to undermine the unity between EU Member States.
‘Russia will try to use this crisis in order to improve its global position and to ease the sanctions imposed by the European Union and United States,’ Minister of Defence Jüri Luik said in his speech at the meeting, adding that conventional threats have, unfortunately, not disappeared during the current crisis, and it is important that member states preserve their situational awareness and capability to respond.
According to Luik the unity and solidarity of the EU is underpinned by the actions of the Member States themselves and military forces have played an important part in resolving the crisis. ‘The 2008 global financial crisis showed, there is an urge to sacrifice defence budgets when economies face hardships. European defence budgets have taken a decade to recover and it continues to have a significant effect on capability development. We should stand firm that neither national defence budgets nor defence related spending in the next MFF – European Defence Fund and military mobility – take a hit,’ Luik added.
In regards to missions, the Member States admitted the need to continue contributing at the current level. Estonia is temporarily participating with two servicemen in European Union missions, with one serving as part of the EUTM Training Mission in Mali, where Estonia has sent nearly 2000 meal rations, to ensure critical mission supplies in a situation in which using current transport channels is complicated. The Estonian medical staff officer serving in the new European Union military mission EUNAVFOR MED IRINI will also continue his activities.
Also participating in the unofficial meeting of European Union Ministers of Defence was NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg and United Nations Under-Secretary-General for Peace Operations Jean-Pierre Lacroix.
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