Vice President Mike Pence traveled to Tallinn, Estonia on Sunday, where he held a bilateral meeting with Prime Minister Juri Ratas and reaffirmed the United States’ commitment to the common defense principle of NATO’s Article 5.
Ratas expressed extreme happiness that Pence and his colleagues had come to Estonia. The Prime Minister listed “Defense, security, cyber and also the economy” among the issues important to Estonia. Ratas mentioned also that the two nations have deep ties, as he has relatives that have lived in the United States for many decades. “We will look forward to our strong and deep cooperation in the future, as well,” he said.
Pence thanked Prime Minister Ratas for his hospitality, then brought greetings from U.S. President Donald Trump:
He wanted me to be here to review the strong ties and strong [inaudible] between the people of the United States and the people of Estonia. We are grateful for you leadership and grateful for you strong commitment to our common defense and I want to offer my congratulations to Estonia, stepping into the role of the presidency of the European Union. And we look forward to working with you as you continue to provide a strong example and strong leadership [inaudible] Trans-Atlantic Alliance. I know that we have much to discuss, and I look forward to our conversations. I look forward to meeting the president tomorrow, along with other leaders from the Baltic states. Thank you for the warm welcome to this historic place, thank you for leadership, and thank you for telling me how many family members you have living in the state of Indiana.
The White House conveyed that Ratas and Pence discussed Estonia holding the presidency of the Council of the European Union. Pence “thanked the Prime Minister for prioritizing stronger transatlantic ties, enhanced EU-NATO cooperation, and increased defense spending as part of the agenda for the Estonian presidency,” according to an official readout on the meeting.
A portion of the White House readout of the meeting stated:
The Vice President highlighted the United States’ unwavering commitment to the security of the Baltic states and to our collective defense obligations under NATO’s Article 5. He also expressed appreciation for Estonia’s contributions to international security – including in Afghanistan and Iraq – and for Estonia’s leadership as one of only six NATO Allies that has reached the 2 percent of GDP Wales commitment.
At another point during his time in Estonia, Pence responded to a reporter’s question. The reporter asked, “President originally at NATO HQ didn’t reaffirm Article 5. What has changed?”
Pence answered, “From the time the president sent me to speak at the Munich Security Conference, we made it clear that the policy of our administration is to stand firmly with our NATO allies and to stand firmly behind our Article 5 commitment that an attack on one is an attack on all…”
In remarks to Estonian military troops on Monday, Pence said of Article 5:
Be assured: The United States rejects any attempt to use force, threats, intimidation, or malign influence in the Baltic States or against any of our treaty allies — and under President Donald Trump, the United States of America will stand firmly behind our Article 5 pledge of mutual defense — and the presence of the U.S Armed Forces here today proves it.
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