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NATO Chief Reassures Estonia Of Alliance's Commitment To Collective Defense

NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen on Wednesday welcomed the new Estonian Prime Minister Taavi Roivas to the NATO Headquarters in Brussels and reassured him of the alliance's firm commitment to collective defense.

"As we face the most serious security crisis in a generation, we are determined to keep NATO robust, ready and agile. Estonia, like every NATO member, can count on Allied solidarity at all times and against any threat," Rasmussen was quoted as telling Roivas in a press release issued Thursday.

Speaking about the measures taken by NATO in response to Russia's aggression against Ukraine, Rasmussen underlined that NATO has more than doubled the number of fighter aircraft allocated to the Alliance's air policing mission in the Baltic States.

"And we will make sure we have updated military plans, enhanced exercises and appropriate deployments", he said.

The NATO Secretary General also praised Estonia's commitment to the Alliance.

"It is now ten years since Estonia joined our Alliance. Throughout, Estonia has made NATO stronger, and NATO has made Estonia stronger," Rasmussen said.

"Over the years, brave and professional Estonian troops have made a substantial contribution to our challenging mission in Afghanistan. Estonia has learnt tough lessons on cyber defense, and is now making a significant contribution to strengthen the Alliance efforts in this vital domain," he added.

Rasmussen said Estonia is leading by example when it comes to investing the right amount of resources in the right defense capabilities.

"Despite the economic crisis, you are spending 2 percent of your gross domestic product on defense. This shows your commitment to collective defense. And it shows that if Estonia can do it, other Allies can do it too," Rasmussen said.

When asked by journalists about claims made by Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov that NATO was not respecting its bilateral agreements with Russia, Rasmussen stressed that it was not the case.

"Of course we haven't violated the Rome Declaration and I'm actually surprised that Russia can claim that NATO has violated its commitments, because Russia is violating every principle and international commitment it has made," Rasmussen said.

"First and foremost the commitment not to invade other countries. Russia has undermined all the principles of our relationship and therefore there can no longer be business as usual and to make it clear NATO's core task is to defend our allies and this is what we are doing," he added.

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