The Baltic Times, 23 May 2017
TALLINN – The national defense committees of the parliaments of the Baltic countries, Nordic countries and Poland are meeting in Bergen, Norway on Monday and Tuesday to hold the annual security forum in the format of parliamentary standing committees.
The focus of the discussions will be on NATO-Nordic cooperation and the Nordic-Baltic security framework, spokespeople for the Estonian parliament said.
The chairman of the Riigikogu national defense committee, Hannes Hanso, said he has no doubts about the value of Nordic-Baltic defense cooperation. “Regardless of whether a country is a member of the NATO or not, we need to cooperate because we all value the security of our region,” the former defense minister of Estonia said. “We have a similar view of the threats, so there should be no artificial obstacles to joint activities.”
Hanso added that another crucial task today is to raise awareness about our situation, including by means of intelligence cooperation between the countries of the region.
As the host nation, Norway will present to the guests the gender neutral conscription service. Hanso said that other countries have a lot to learn from the experiences of Norway, because including women into conscription is a topical theme in the other countries of the Baltic Sea region as well, including most certainly in Estonia.
Norway’s Defense Minister Ine Eriksen Soreide will address the forum about Norway’s defense policy and the priorities of the national security policy. The panel on Russia will focus on how to understand and interpret Russia’s ambitions and military capabilities.
The guests will visit the Haakonsvern navy base, where the special operations force of the Royal Norwegian Navy will demonstrate their capabilities.
The chairman of the Estonian parliament’s national defense committee will speak about the parliamentary dimension program of the Estonian presidency of the EU and about the Conference for the Common Foreign and Security Policy and the Common Security and Defense Policy (CFSP/CSDP) that will be held in Tallinn in September.
Besides Hanso, the delegation of the national defense committee also includes members of the committee Ants Laaneots, Madis Milling and Tiit Terik.