According to the prime minister, the alliance has contributed significantly to the alleviation of the COVID-19 crisis. “NATO has responded promptly to the global crisis and has helped allies coordinate cooperation to help each other. The allied defence forces have provided a lot of assistance to the civilian services by helping with the transportation of medical equipment, building field hospitals, and supporting border control,” he mentioned as an example.
“NATO’s deterrence in the Baltic Sea region is extremely important. That is why I am pleased that all the activities that help ensure our security, including the NATO battle group in Tapa and the fighters carrying out the Baltic Air Policing Mission in Ämari, have proceeded smoothly,” said Ratas.
According to the prime minister, this shows the unity and solidarity of the member states, but also that NATO is prepared to adapt to a very wide range of challenges, so that the military capabilities of the allies can be used to solve civilian crises.
Ratas and Stoltenberg also discussed the broader impact of the pandemic crisis on the security environment. The prime minister admitted that the COVID-19 crisis will have long-term impact on the economies of the member states. “Estonia is firmly committed to developing its national military defence and that is why we have kept our defence budget at 2% over the years,” he said.
In Estonia, the Defence Forces sent a field hospital to support the Kuressaare Hospital and assisted other institutions by providing them with personal protective equipment. In support of the Police and Border Guard Board, members of the Defence League have been involved in the restoration of border control, and more than 300 members of the Naiskodukaitse women’s voluntary defence organisation have helped in various places and institutions across Estonia.