Cooperation and stabilisation of the post-1991 security architecture

University of Tartu

A strong and stable partnership between the United States and Europe, as well as the improvement of the international reputation of the USA, is a key priority for Estonia.[1] In his recent ‘advice’ to the president-elect of the United States, President Ilves argued that “(o)f all the international issues that will demand President Barack Obama’s attention, two will be increasingly urgent: restoring the still-fragile relationship with Europe and addressing the collapse of the continent’s post-1991 security architecture”. The top three Estonian priorities for re-vitalizing the EU-US relationship appear to be the following:
1) Developing a unified policy towards Russia. This is especially important in the wake of the Georgia conflict. Both the EU and the US must “continue defending the liberal democratic values that ended the cold war while working with a resurgent, authoritarian and resentful Russia”.[2] According to President Ilves, the United States must continue to defend liberal-democratic principles while proactively restoring its ties to Europe: “Otherwise, 2008 could go down in history as the year when the fundamental assumptions of the post-cold-war world ceased to apply. These assumptions include the ideas that aggression is unacceptable, that borders cannot be changed by force and that democratically elected governments and the rule of law should not be forsaken for pragmatic concerns”.[3]
The EU, in turn, must resist the temptation to give in to Realpolitik when dealing with Russia. While the call to treat Russia ‘as it is’ is often heard in EU circles, many EU leaders appear to forget that Russia ‘as it is’: “now ranks 147th in the world in fighting corruption (according to Transparency International) and 141st in freedom of the press (according to Reporters Without Borders), and in 2008 was downgraded by Freedom House from ‘partially free’ to ‘not free’”.[4]
2) Cooperation in solving regional conflicts from the Middle-East to Afghanistan and intensifying security cooperation under the NATO umbrella.
3) Cooperation in the sphere of energy and climate policy. According to Foreign Minister Paet, the US and the EU need to take into account the geopolitical aspect of the energy issue. Cooperation with the US is particularly critical in carrying out energy infrastructure projects in the Caspian and Black Sea region.[5]

[1] Erika Kalda and Erik Gamzejev, „President Ilves: “Surutisele vaatamata pole töö Eestis otsa lõppenud”, Põhjarannik, 19 November 2008, available at: .

[2] President of Estonia Toomas Hendrik Ilves, “The Challenge in Europe: Only unified can the West defend itself. But first it must heal the transatlantic rift.” Newsweek, 31 December 2008, available at: .

[3] Ibid.

[4] Ibid.

[5] Ministry of Foreign Affairs Press Release, „Eesti peab väga oluliseks ELi ja USA koostööd energiajulgeoleku suurendamisel“, 9 January 2008, available at: .