Remarks With Estonian Foreign Minister Urmas Paet Before Their Meeting

John Kerry
Secretary of State
Treaty Room
Washington, DC
May 29, 2014

SECRETARY KERRY: Good morning, everybody. Great pleasure to welcome Foreign Minister Paet of Estonia to Washington. We could not be more grateful or pleased for and with the relationship with Estonia.

Estonia is a very strong NATO partner. In fact, one of only four countries in NATO that has met its 2 percent commitment to defense, and has committed to continue that 2 percent spending for at least the next 10 years. We have a very strong relationship with respect to democracy, commitment to democracy building, territorial integrity. Estonia has been a solid partner in the effort to make clear all of our feelings about the territorial violations that have taken place with respect to Ukraine and the challenge to stability in the region.

In addition to that, Estonia is currently hosting a significant increase of presence within NATO in order to make clear the issues of sovereignty within the region. So on the issues of defense and security we have been as forward leaning as any members within the NATO alliance. But in addition to that, we have other efforts in which we’re working together, particularly diversity of the energy supply to Europe. There are important choices to be made in order to try to create greater energy independence. Estonia is a leader with respect to that effort, as well as our hopes, all of us, to try to move forward on the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, which we think is a critical economic step that can rekindle growth in Europe and strengthen the rules of the road for our economies.

So we have a lot to talk about today, but particularly grateful to welcome a country that has been, frankly, as courageous, as clear, as principled as Estonia has been. It’s a strong and important NATO ally, and we’re happy to have the discussions we will today.

Thank you.

FOREIGN MINISTER PAET: Thank you. Well, it’s good to be in Washington once again, and thank you very much for hosting, Secretary Kerry. Estonia and the United States, we are very strong partners and we share all important and basic values. And Estonia really and strongly appreciates the very quick reaction of the United States to change the security circumstances and security environment in Europe. We appreciate a lot the additional contribution of the United States with air policing of Estonia and also Latvia and Lithuania, and also troops you sent to Estonia to participate in military exercise, but also to stay longer in Estonia.

Of course, we both at the moment like to see the quick and clear de-escalation of the situation in Ukraine. Unfortunately, recently, another four OSCE observers were taken by people in eastern Ukraine. Among these four OSCE observers also one is an Estonian citizen, and we of course hope that these people will be released as soon as possible.

We’re also making good cooperation with the United States in this fare of supporting new democracies, which together in the so-called LEND project, which supports the leaders of new democracies and also one of the areas we make very strong cooperation is cyber defense and all other cyber and IT-related issues.

I’d like also mention energy security of Europe, and here the United States plays important and critical role, and the EU and U.S. relationship is also for us absolute necessity, so that we are also firm and strong supporter of European Union and United States free trade agreement talks, so that we hope that this common free trade area will be created as soon as possible.

So that once again, thank you very much for hosting. Thank you very much for this very strong partnership and friendship. Thank you.

SECRETARY KERRY: Thank you very much.

QUESTION: Mr. Secretary, Edward Snowden says he has cooperated with Russia…

SECRETARY KERRY: I have no comment right now, but thank you.