Estonia PM Kaja Kallas on Pathways to Peace, Cooperation with Japan

Jurgen Randma / The Estonian Government Office
Estonian Prime Minister Kaja Kallas speaks to The Yomiuri Shimbun in Tallinn on Tuesday.

The following are key points made by Estonian Prime Minister Kaja Kallas during a Yomiuri Shimbun interview in Tallinn on Tuesday. They have been slightly edited.

On European defense:

From 1999 until 2021, European defense investment rose by 19.7%. Russia, the same period, 292%, and China, 592%. We are in the security situation where we have to actually think about this in order to be prepared, in order for this to never be used. If you are prepared, then nobody else makes the miscalculation to approach your way because you will be able to defend the region.

The majority [of the people in Russia] who support the war, the first reason that they gave as to why they support the war is glory. Whoever comes after [Russian President Vladimir] Putin, or if Putin stays, I think that doesn’t change the attitude.

On support for Ukraine:

I really like the quote by Winston Churchill during the Second World War on nations that appease a dictator: “Each one hopes that if he feeds the crocodile enough, the crocodile will eat him last.”

After the Second World War, the United Nations was created, and the United Nations Charter says that you can’t attack the sovereignty and territorial integrity of another country. But what happens if somebody does attack the sovereignty and territorial integrity of another country? If we just, in this case when somebody has done that, say, “OK, take some territories, and we draw the line here,” then we say that the international law does not apply.

[If] aggression pays off, you walk away with more territory than you had before. And that is very dangerous for all the countries in the world, because the aggressors or would-be aggressors in the world are carefully taking notes. I think it is very important to really stick to the international law and not appease any dictators.

What Russia tries to do is prey on our fears and threaten us, and, of course, nuclear is the fear that many are afraid of. If you look at the definition of terrorism, then it practically says that terrorism is making us afraid, so that we would refrain from the decisions that we would otherwise make. We can’t be threatened by everything that they say. And we shouldn’t refrain from our decisions to support Ukraine.

On pathways to peace:

We need sustainable peace. Every child knows that war is bad, and peace is good. Everybody wants peace. That is very clear. But what I want to describe is that there is a difference between peace and “peace.”

After the Second World War, we didn’t have war here. But we had huge human suffering and atrocities. A fifth of our population was killed or deported after the war to Siberia. Our culture was suppressed, our language the same. Our political elite, economic elite, cultural elite — completely erased. That kind of “peace” does not have the quality that we want. Because we want to end human suffering. I think that is the most important thing.

On cooperation with Japan:

We have good cooperation in cyber with Japan. And I definitely think that we should do more because we are like-minded. We are small, but we have a very strong startup community, very fresh out of the box ideas. And Japan has the technological advantage. Putting those two together, we can achieve a lot.