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Estonian Interior Minister: ‘In case of NATO’s death, we need Plan B’

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TALLINN – Estonian Interior Minister Mart Helme of the Conservative People’s Party said in an interview with Finnish newspaper Iltalehti that the Baltic countries would prepare a “contingency plan” because there was no longer any hope for NATO and that the alliance was in crisis.

The country’s prime minister, Jüri Ratase, reiterated that all of Estonia’s plans come down to NATO membership, but only in the case that the alliance is sustainable, according to the Estonian television’s ERR website. According to Mart Helme, a back-up plan is needed because the government cannot hope that NATO will guarantee Estonia’s territorial integrity and independence in every possible situation.

“I do not want to say that Macron is one hundred percent right in talking about NATO’s brain death, but it is clear that the Alliance has problems,” Helme said.

French President Emmanuel Macron said in early November that NATO’s European members could no longer rely on US protection.

“NATO is in a state of brain death and Europe is on the verge of catastrophe. If Europe does not strategically see itself as a geopolitical center of power, then it runs the risk of losing control of its destiny,” Macron said.

According to Helme, the Estonian authorities are preparing for the upcoming NATO summit in London.

“We are preparing a backup plan, Plan B. This is what Estonia and the other Baltic countries will do if Macron’s words prove true. We don’t know exactly what Americans will do. Our ministers recently traveled to the United States, where they discussed China all the time. Few people consider Russia an important topic,” the Estonian minister said.

Helme said he regrets what is happening in the Middle East now, where Americans are leaving and Russia and Turkey are establishing friendly relations.

“We worry about Russia. At a government meeting, I said we should know about the plans of our ‘senior colleagues’. I mean not just the United States, but the United Kingdom too. We are worried about what will happen to the security of the Baltic countries after Brexit and what will happen to Germany after Merkel resigns as chancellor,” said the Estonian interior minister.

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Estonian Interior Minister Mart Helme is not sure of France either.

“Do the French want to improve relations with the Russians? Everything is unclear. Nobody knows what’s next, so we need a backup plan. But that doesn’t mean we think Russia will invade Estonia,” Helme stressed.

According to Helme, Finland may also have a role to play in Plan B.

“I am sure that it is in Finland’s interest to have an independent Estonia on the southern coast of the Gulf of Finland, not the Russian Empire again,” the minister said.

Mart Helme noted that, according to his estimates, Russia has always been “a danger” to Estonia, and that it will continue to be so.

“The danger depends on who is in power in Russia. If the dictatorship in Russia is based on an ‘iron fist’, it means war for Estonia. If there is a democratic government in Russia and the EU agrees with Russia on a visa-free regime, it means that the Russians will begin to actively settle in Estonia. It’s a different kind of danger. Our relations with Russia will always be difficult,” Mart Helme said.

According to Helme, Estonia should not rely on the European Union, because it is not the “center of power” in the world, and the EU’s influence will be even weaker in the future.

The minister believes NATO could overcome the crisis, but he does not have any special hopes, so other plans need to be prepared, concludes the ERR channel, which broadcasted parts of the Estonian minister’s interview to the Finnish newspaper Iltalehti.

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