THE MINISTER OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS LIIMETS: Dear Secretary Blinken, dear Tony, it is truly an honor for me to welcome you to Tallinn today. We just met in Washington, DC, on February 16, just on the eve of this unwarranted war that we’re seeing right now, the Russian-initiated war in Ukraine, which of course has changed the security dialogue here in Europe. We had a ton of discussions about what we should do together to support Ukraine in these very difficult circumstances. Of course, we must continue to support Ukraine politically, economically and continue to provide humanitarian aid and also defensive means to Ukraine.
Yesterday morning we read in the news that more than 1.8 million refugees have left their homes in Ukraine. It’s something we all need to work on. As the security situation has changed in Europe, the balance of power has also changed. We must continue to strengthen the defense and posture (inaudible) here at NATO, especially on the eastern flank. And we are very grateful for recent NATO decisions. But it is our hope, that by the NATO summit in the summer, we will have permanent solutions for NATO’s permanent defense posture here on the eastern flank so that (inaudible) continues to work hard to strengthen the security situation in Europe and in particular in this eastern part of Europe.
We also discussed how to influence Russia to stop the war, this unjustified war in Ukraine, and stop this invasion.
And so there are a lot of things that we discussed and I’m very grateful for those discussions. It is also this year that we celebrate 100 years of diplomatic relations between Estonia and the United States. It is of course unfortunate that we have to celebrate this anniversary under these very unfortunate circumstances, but I think we have just agreed that we have very strong bilateral ties, and there are also many areas in which we can continue to strengthen our cooperation. . And we on the Estonian side really appreciate this close cooperation with a very important and key ally for us. Thank you for coming to Estonia today.
SECRETARY BLINKEN: Well, thank you, Eva-Maria, very much. It’s very good to be here in Estonia. As you said, we were together a few weeks ago in Washington on the eve of this terrible Russian aggression against Ukraine. I think we both recognize that it was more than possible; it was likely. Of course, we were hoping for the best, which was not to have an aggressive war from Russia, but we were preparing for the worst.
And what has been so important is that over many months of working closely with Estonia, working with NATO allies, working with European partners, working with other countries of the world, we were ready. And ready to make sure we do everything we can to support Ukraine, ready to make sure we do whatever is necessary to strengthen NATO and its eastern flank, ready to continue our commitment to impose massive consequences to Russia if it were to commit an aggression against Ukraine. And we did all these things.
Now, as we were discussing today, it is very important to support all of these efforts, but not just to support them but to strengthen them. And that’s what we’re working on together, that’s what we’re working on with NATO allies and partners, that’s what we’re working on with the European Union and countries around the world.
The fact that this is a hundred years of partnership, with many ups and downs, but still this consistent partnership between our countries, I think is very significant, because today we are reminded in particular how important it is that we have this partnership, that we have the alliance that unites us, and that we have the extraordinary coordination and cooperation that we have experienced in the last few months in particular, and I think that we are both committed to this continues.
So it’s wonderful to be here. I wish it had been in a different circumstance, but the circumstances really demanded it.
Finally, I just want to reiterate one thing, because it’s so important. President Biden is absolutely committed to our NATO alliance, committed to article 5, to the proposition that an attack on one is an attack on all, and he’s made that very clear many times, including to the American people during their recent State of the Union address, that we will defend every square inch of NATO territory if it is attacked, if it is the victim of aggression. And it is important that I reiterate this message from the President here in Estonia. Thank you.
THE MINISTER OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS LIIMETS: Thank you.