U.S. Secretary of State wants a dialogue with Russia from power positions
Dialogue with Russia must be held from a position of power, and there must be no accepting of violations of international law, Estonian Foreign Minister Sven Mikser told reporters after a meeting of NATO foreign ministers in Brussels last Friday, March 31, citing words said at the meeting by U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson.
“Tillerson said it out clearly that we must not accept violation of international law and failure to meet one’s obligations under treaties, and should hold a dialogue with Russia from a position of power,” Mikser said.
The Estonian Minister said that NATO must maintain a sufficient deterrence posture that is unambiguous, clear and understandable, and talk to Russia with a clear voice and from a common position.
Mikser said in his response to a question from ERR, that the main message from this meeting was that there are no grounds for the kind of fears that were caused by some utterances of U.S. President Donald Trump during the electoral campaign. The United States continues to be committed to ensuring the security of Europe, he said.
Mikser said there are no major differences between the defense and security policy of the present and the former U.S. administration.
Allies expect to get a statement similar to those made by Tillerson on Friday, from Trump at a May 25 summit and by U.S. Vice President Mike Pence in February, he added.
There are no differences between the European Member States of NATO on that defense spending needs to be increased, Mikser said.
“Implementation of this is more difficult. Some allies are making faster progress than others. It is true that the burden of the U.S. has been too big, but fair sharing of the burden is not an invention of Trump. That was emphasized also by the previous administration,” he said.
The minister said Estonia encourages all allies to raise defense spending to 2 per cent of GDP. Commenting on the objections of the foreign minister of Germany, he said that an active debate on this subject is going on in Germany, and the Defense Minister of Germany, Ursula von der Leyen, has been more optimistic than Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel.
Speaking of terrorism, the Estonian minister said that the allies expressed their readiness to increase their input, such as to training of the Iraqi security forces. “We must also think out of the box to bring stability to the areas freed from ISIS and avoid the rise of similar organizations in the future,” Mikser said.
The discussion on Russia’s military activity in Europe was also attended by the EU Foreign Policy Chief Federica Mogherini, Swedish Foreign Minister Margot Wallstrom and Finland’s Foreign Minister Timo Soini.
“Finland and Sweden have been particularly close partners to the alliance for years and major contributors to operations,” Mikser said. “It is a pleasant tradition that with certain regularity they are brought in to take part in these discussions, especially when the topics have to do with their security too. Russia’s growing aggressiveness and ambitions are such a topic.”
The Estonian minister said that Russia’s actions provide grounds for strengthening the NATO deterrent posture and this is understood also in Stockholm and in Helsinki.
Estonian Foreign Minister Sven Mikser