The relationship between Estonia and the President Donald Trump administration is solid, Estonian Prime Minister Juri Ratas told CNBC at the World Economic Forum on Friday, countering doubts over the current U.S. government's commitment to its NATO ally.
Asked if Trump has been a dedicated friend so far, the prime minister replied, "We have a very strong relationship between the U.S. and the president of the U.S. For example last year the speaker (of the House of Representative) of the U.S. visited Estonia, the vice president visited Estonia. I think this is a really concrete and strong sign for the rest of the world."
Trump has regularly chided fellow NATO members, questioning the nearly 70-year-old alliance's relevance and demanding that member countries increase their military spending as part of the pact.
The value of NATO military partnerships is increasingly in focus as Russia, Estonia's neighbor to the east, ups its military exercises and engages in expansionary activity — military and politically — in border countries like Ukraine and Georgia. Putin's government has been accused of carrying out hybrid warfare in the Baltic states to turn political opinion against the EU and toward the Russian Federation.
Ratas denied there was any concern about NATO's ability to defend the small Baltic country.
"Our bilateral relations between the U.S. and Estonia are very strong. Especially in security and defense, because today under NATO we have the Enhanced Forward Presence, (which) means we have troops in Estonia from the U.K. France, and Denmark."
"It is important to have a very strong cornerstone between the EU and U.S. and NATO, and I think this is the most important thing today," he stressed.