EstonianDefense Minister Juri Luik acknowledged Sweden’s Baltic defense contribution during his visit to Stockholm.
“The exercise Aurora 17 as well as developments in Sweden’s defense area show that Sweden is clearly sensing a bigger role in assuring the security of the Baltic Sea region,” Luik was quoted by spokespeople as saying.
Luik met with Swedish Defense Minister Peter Hultqvist and commander of the Swedish Armed Forces Gen. Micael Byden on Friday. The defense ministers discussed the security situation in the Baltic Sea region and the Aurora exercise as well as the ongoing Russia-Belarus large-scale exercise Zapad.
Aurora 17 is the first bigger exercise of the Swedish Armed Forces as of the start of 1990s. The exercise will take place on Gotland as well as around Stockholm and Göteborg. A platoon of the Saaremaa district of the Estonian volunteer corps Kaitseliit (Defense League) will take part in the exercise with the diver and support vessel Wambola.
The ministers also discussed bilateral cooperation in the area of defense.
Hultqvist gave an overview of the decision made by the Swedish government to increase defense spending in the next three years. The government is to allocate additional funds worth 8.1 billion Swedish kronor (about 850 million euros) to strengthen the country’s Armed Forces. In addition, Sweden will restore conscript service as of the start of 2018.
Luik also met with ambassadors of EU and NATO member states who reside in Sweden to give an overview of the recent meeting of EU defense ministers that took place in Tallinn as well as of the latest developments in European defense cooperation. Luik said that EU defense ministers affirmed readiness for stronger cooperation in the area of defense, adding that it is hoped that the EU permanent structured cooperation mechanism (PESCO) and the European Defence Fund would be launched already at the end of this year.
According to secretary general of Sweden’s Ministry of Defense Jan Salestrand, Sweden supports stronger defense cooperation in Europe, adding that it should not duplicate NATO’s activities.
TALLINN, Sep 13, BNS – Estonian Minister of Defense Juri Luik and his Finnish counterpart Jussi Niinisto during their meeting in Helsinki on Wednesday discussed defense cooperation and matters related to the Zapad joint large scale military exercise of Russia and Belarus.
Luik and Niinisto talked about the regional security situation in view of the Zapad large scale exercise and bilateral defense cooperation, spokespeople for the Estonian Defense Ministry said.
Also discussed was defense cooperation within the European Union, which has been supported also by Finland.
During an informal meeting of EU defense ministers in Tallinn last week, the EU’s foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini and the Estonian minister of defense both expressed hope that important decisions concerning EU defense cooperation will be reached already by the end of this year.
Finland is positively minded about EU defense cooperation and is waiting for practical solutions.
Luik also visited the Hietaniemi cemetery in Helsinki and laid wreaths to honor fallen soldiers.
HELSINKI, Sep 12, STT-BNS – Estonian Minister of Defense Jüri Luik is to visit Finland on Wednesday, the Finnish Ministry of Defense said on Tuesday.
Among others, Luik is to meet with Finnish Minister of Defense Jussi Niinisto, with whom he will discuss bilateral relations, the security situation on the Baltic Sea and bilateral and international cooperation, the ministry’s statement said.
Jüri Luik has held the positions of Estonian Minister of Foreign Affairs, Estonian Minister of Defense and the permanent representative for Estonia in NATO. Currently he is the Estonian minister of Defence.
Prior to his current position, Mr. Luik was from 2003 – 2007 the Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Republic of Estonia to Canada, the United Mexican States and the United States of America. He has been active in Estonian foreign affairs since 1991.
Estonia has not received an invitation from Russia to observe Zapad, a large-scale joint Russian-Belarusian military exercise to take place in September. Russian authorities, however, will present the exercises to military attaches accredited to other countries’ diplomatic missions in Moscow at a separate event.
“Military attaches accredited to Moscow have been invited to attend an event at Luga Training Camp on Sept. 18-19, in the course of which Russia will present the Zapad joint military exercise,” Ministry of Defence spokesperson Susan Lilleväli told BNS on Wednesday. “The Estonian defense attaches are ready to take part in the event.”
The joint Russian-Belarusian military exercise will be held in the territory of both countries from Sept. 14-20. The exercise has sparked concern in other countries as, in similar exercises in 2009 and 2013, Russia, among other things, allegedly rehearsed an attack on its neighbors.
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said in mid-July that, “based on previous experiences related to previous exercises, we have every reason to believe that substantially more troops are participating than the official reported numbers.” He encouraged Russia to allow NATO observers to monitor the maneuvers.
Minister of Defence Jüri Luik has expressed the same concern, telling weekly Maaleht in July that Russia should declare the exercise on the basis of the Vienna Document, according to which any exercise involving more than 9,000 participants should be declared. Russia has stated that 13,000 troops will be participating in the September exercise.
Belarus has sent invitations to Estonia and other countries, which Estonia has already chosen to accept, to observe the exercise on its territory. It has not offered any details, however.
TALLINN – Estonian Minister of Defense Juri Luik is set to introduce the priorities of the Estonian EU presidency in the field of defense to representatives of the European Commission next week.
The minister on Tuesday is scheduled to go on a visit to Brussels, where he will meet with European Commission Vice-President Jyrki Katainen and the EU Internal Market Commissioner Elzbieta Bienkowska.
At the meeting Luik is set to present the priorities of the Estonian EU presidency in the field of defense and discuss important issues arising in the field of defense during the presidency with the representatives of the European Commission, spokespeople at the Ministry of Defense said.
The same issues are also set to be discussed at the minister’s meeting with the head of the European Union Military Committee (EUMC) and head of the European Defense Agency.