TALLINN, Sept. 30 (Xinhua) -- The Annual Baltic Conference on Defense (ABCD) has focused on the impact of the global COVID-19 crisis on defense and security policy and on the role defense forces and reservists could play in helping the civilian authorities in crises.
In her opening address on Wednesday, Estonian President Kersti Kaljulaid said the reserve army and conscription model of Estonia's defense forces ensured that her country has a large, combat-ready and quickly deployable war-time army, hailing the positive societal impact of conscription and reserve service.
"It is probably why we have a relatively stable political and societal consensus on spending at least two percent of GDP (gross domestic product) on defense," said Kaljulaid.
In keynote speeches, Portuguese Defense Minister Joao Gomes Cravinho and his Estonian counterpart Juri Luik tackled the defense policies of the European Union (EU) and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) as well as cybersecurity, describing the role played by the Allied troops in Europe as defense and deterrence.
Estonian Prime Minister Juri Ratas said that his country will not make, under any conditions, compromises on the expenses related to the strengthening of national defense, which are increased to 645 million euros (755.6 million U.S. dollars) or 2.29 percent of GDP in the 2021 state budget submitted to the Estonian parliament later that day.
"Combating the coronavirus pandemic requires an inclusive approach and creates a challenge for the entire society," Ratas said, adding that the coronavirus crisis had proved how important international cooperation was.
Under the theme of "Strengthening Baltic Societal Resilience and Military Defense," the conference was organized by the International Center for Defense and Security and the Ministry of Defense of Estonia, among others.