Reinsalu: There is no alternative to transatlantic cooperation

There is no alternative to transatlantic cooperation and the confrontation between Russia and the West will continue, Minister of Foreign Affairs Urmas Reinsalu said on Sunday.

Discussing this year’s conference, which took place over the weekend and was also attended by President Kersti Kaljulaid, he said it remained clear, when viewed from the Estonian security perspective, the confrontation between the West and Russia would continue.

Reinsalu told ERR: “Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov referred to Russia’s approach, which is clearly opposed to the West. There is no point in having illusions about it. But this is more than offset by a powerful, clear, positive message from U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. Because the United States is in Europe, is interested in working with Europe, and the clear promise of that was the pledging of a billion dollars to the Three Seas Initiative Investment Fund, and in that decision, I certainly do not underestimate the value of our diplomats, the work of the representatives of our country in achieving this, as Estonia is currently the carrier of this initiative.”

Discussing the approaches of the European Union to foreign policy he said the organization speaks with one voice. He said: “Well for us, the most important thing is security issues and the EU has to deal with resilience, the soft side, combating hybrid risks, but that is the central responsibility of ensuring the security of the European continent – that is, and that remains with NATO.”

He continued: “Now, about foreign and security policy in general, countries don’t have different approaches in Europe. It’s important to discuss, to understand that the major European powers can’t stand up to the challenges of China alone, [or] the different challenges of the world. But this cannot be achieved through the introduction of majority voting in the European Union’s foreign policy. Another thing that is important to all European leaders, and also perceived by American leaders, is that there is no alternative to transatlantic cooperation. Unfortunately, the values of the Atlantic space and its way of life, its share in the world, is going to decline significantly in the next century. This is true in terms of demography, military capabilities, the economy. And so that we can pass on these values, lifestyle, security and freedom to our grandchildren, we must make sure to protect it.”

Reinsalu also said, in several cases, individual European country’s relationships with the U.S. were better than relations between the U.S. and EU as a whole.

“And that’s a problem for me,” he stressed. “And I see that the long-term goal of Estonia’s foreign policy must be to build transatlantic cooperation, including on issues where the European Union as a whole or the larger EU countries have a strong divergent view from the United States.

“I think the first issue that comes up on Monday is the Middle East Peace Process. My appeal to U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and EU Foreign Policy Leader Josep Borrell is that we need to have a strong dialogue on this issue. There must be a starting point when discussing major strategic issues around the world in terms of security, that the EU and the U.S. are looking for common ground.”

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