Secretary of Defense Speech

Remarks at Bilateral Meeting with Estonian Minister of Defence Luik


Mr. Minister, Ambassador – it’s good to have you here. You and your delegation are most welcome. After last seeing you at February’s NATO Defense Ministerial, it is good to see Estonia and America’s flags flying side by side over the Pentagon steps just now.

I congratulate you on the 100th anniversary of Estonia’s independence this year. You are a young country – and we don’t say that very often around here… Since your independence, our two nations have steadily fostered strong relations, bolstered by our shared democratic values and desire for transatlantic unity.

The United States remains steadfastly committed to Baltic defense, as NATO reinforces respect for territorial integrity and guards against common security threats, like those posed by Russia, as it seeks to redraw international borders by force and pursues veto authority over European nations’ diplomatic, economic, and security decisions. As Secretary-General Stoltenberg said this last Monday, “NATO does not want a new cold war… we are responding because we see a more assertive Russia.”

Since 2012, Estonia has exceeded the Wales Pledge, with more than two percent of GDP spent on defense spending, demonstrating your commitment to share the defense burden for Europe and ensuring NATO remains fit for our times. We also appreciate Estonia’s offer to deploy up to 40 additional personnel to the mission in Afghanistan – thank you for that very real support.

Your pragmatic response to the cyber attack in 2007, following the relocation of a Red Army soldier statue in Tallinn, gave rise to NATO’s Cooperative Cyber Defense Centre of Excellence. Today provides a welcome opportunity to recognize your nation’s leadership in this domain and to discuss the next steps for cyber cooperation. We appreciate your leadership in this new area of competition.

Estonia’s efforts illustrate the size of a nation is less important than its commitment to its own and regional security. Your nation truly punches above its weight.

I look forward to discussing steps to strengthen our military-to-military relationship, ensuring that we pass our freedoms intact to the next generation of our citizens.

Mr. Minister, you are most welcome here.

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