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Remarks by Mr. Jüri Luik at the meeting of Defence and Foreign Ministers of the Western European Union

14. November 1994 - 8:23

Mr. Jüri Luik, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Estonia
14 November 1994, Noordwijk

Mr. Secretary-General,
Esteemed Colleagues,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

Today's meeting is the second time that the nine Associate Partners have been invited to a meeting of the WEU Ministerial Council. On behalf of my Government, I would like to thank the WEU for taking this step, which is a fine example of how to integrate Central and Eastern European states into Western structures. I would like to thank Mr. van Eekelen in particular for his foresight in granting us enhanced status here, as well as for his outstanding work in activating the WEU during his tenure as Secretary-General, in what has been a critical period in post-Cold War Europe.

Although this is the second time we sit at this table, it is the first time we do so unfettered by the presence of foreign troops on Estonian soil. The moral support lent by the WEU and its member states played no small part in helping achieve this goal, so it is a special privilege for us to be here today.

In my brief remarks, I would like to focus on three ways that Estonia views the WEU within Europe's evolving defense identity, namely, as a pillar, as a tool and as a bridge. Before I elaborate, however, I would say that these views are predicated upon the assumption that European security is indivisible. While troop withdrawals from the Baltic states represent an important step toward security in the region, this was only the first step. There is much, much more to be done to assure security and guard against any new division of Europe.

As we enter a new round of debate this Autumn over enlargement of the EU and NATO, it is vital to think through carefully the long-term implications of enlargement. It would not enhance security if some of the Associate Partners were to be left on a waiting list in a gray zone, in a kind of security vacuum, if you will. Such an attempt to increase security for some could inadvertently decrease security for all, and could hew new fault lines onto the continent. This scenario is but a conceptual argument that remains hypothetical at the moment, but we must keep in mind that nature abhors a vacuum. We must also keep in mind that integrating the Baltic states is a way to solve the major security problem of post-World War II Europe.

In this regard, Estonia welcomes the fact that the WEU has already demonstrated its understanding of the ideas I just mentioned, namely that in expanding, the EU must take into account security requirements as well as general economic factors. This is why Estonia sees the WEU first and foremost as a pillar. I am speaking here of the fourth pillar, the security arm of the Maastricht Treaty. We are hopeful that relations between the EU and the WEU will be further strengthened after the Intergovernmental Conference in 1996, because we believe that the processes of association with the WEU and the EU should move in parallel.

This brings me to the second way Estonia sees the WEU, namely as a tool. If our structured dialogue with the EU is becoming more substantive and frequent with every day, then the prospects for a similar dialogue with the WEU are even closer at hand and are of a more practical nature. Estonia appreciates the possibility to hold regular and direct political consultations with the WEU Council as equals. We believe, however, that these consultations would be even more useful were they not limited to an exchange of views, but were to become a forum for actual coordination of policy positions. A good example of this is the declaration we will make today on the common position held by WEU members and associated partner states.

In addition, the WEU could serve as a useful tool through which the Associated Partners could help develop and shape the EU's Common Foreign and Security Policy, including the evolution of WEU's own role vis-a-vis the EU. This function has already begun, as we see from the guest list for the September meeting of the EU security working group, to which the Baltic states have been invited alongside the six EU Associate members. On another level, it is only logical that the Baltic states would also participate in elaborating the WEU's Common European Defence Policy, the first draft of which has already been passed along for our information.

Besides political consultation, the WEU could be used more as a tool in military affairs. I mentioned the Common European Defence Policy, but we are also very interested in developing direct ties with WEU military structures and its Planning Cell. We would also like to be involved in the relevant ongoing preparations for using WEU forces within the framework of the Combined Joint Task Forces with NATO.

This reference to NATO brings me to our third view of WEU as a bridge. Operating from the adage that interlocking is better than interblocking, Estonia welcomes increased ties between NATO and the WEU in a general, and the place of the Associate Partners in that relationship in particular. For us, the WEU can truly be a bridge toward strengthening our ties with NATO, just as NATO's Partnership for Peace program can enhance common activities within the WEU framework. More and better coordination between the two, however, cannot come at cost of losing comparative advantage. NATO and the WEU are complementary organizations, and each organization must keep its own face if the European Defence Identity is to continue evolving not in weakness, but in strength.

Thank you.

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