TALLINN, ESTONIA—As Speaker Ryan has said, NATO is as important today as it's ever been. That's why a bipartisan delegation led by the speaker concluded a trip to Europe with stops in two nations doing their part to strengthen this alliance: Poland and Estonia.
NATO relies on an important principle of burden sharing, with member countries expected to dedicate two percent of GDP to military spending. The United States, along with the UK, Greece, Poland, and Estonia, are currently the only NATO allies hitting that benchmark.
In Poland, the delegation held a meeting with President Andrzej Duda, during which they thanked the country for leading by example. The group discussed topics such as energy security, military cooperation - including the Polish procurement of US military equipment - and solidarity in deterring Russian aggression.
The members also met with the Polish Prime Minister Beata Szydlo, along with Defense Minister Antoni Macierewicz and Foreign Minister Witold Waszczykowski. The delegation reaffirmed the importance of the US-Poland bilateral relationship as well Poland's commitment to NATO. The members also discussed other topics, such as the recent arrival of US Army troops in Poland as part of the European Reassurance Initiative, meant to bolster NATO's eastern flank.
In Estonia, a country that achieved renewed independence in 1991 after decades of Soviet occupation, the delegation met with Prime Minister Juri Ratas, along with Foreign Minister Sven Mikser. The delegation expressed appreciation for the Estonian people's long and inspiring fight for independence and our shared values of freedom and self-determination. They discussed the important role Estonia and the Baltic states play as the eastern border of the NATO alliance, and our commitment to deterring Russian aggression in the region.
At a bilateral press conference following the meeting, Speaker Ryan remarked, "Thank you to Estonia for being a leader. We want to say thank you to you, Mr. Prime Minister, for hitting the two percent pledge that we're asking all NATO alliance partners to hit."
Afterward, members of the delegation met with American Marines and soldiers stationed in Estonia as part of Operation Atlantic Resolve.
Later, the delegation was able to meet with the speaker of the Estonian parliament and other parliamentarians. They engaged in an important exchange about the values our two countries share and discussed ways to strengthen our bonds, particularly through trade and strategies for cyber security, a subject of which Estonia has long been on the leading edge.
Finally, the delegation was hosted for a dinner by Estonia President Kersti Kaljulaid, an opportunity to reaffirm the alliance of our two nations.
Throughout this trip, the message from the bipartisan delegation was clear and an unambiguous: our commitment to NATO is resolute, and we stand shoulder to shoulder with our allies to promote prosperity and confront global security challenges, including from terrorism and Russian aggression.
Read Codel Ryan's dispatches:
Promoting Economic and Security Cooperation, Ryan Delegation Meets with UK Officials
London Speech: Ryan Praises NATO, Calls for US-UK Trade Deal
Ryan Delegation Witnesses Military Cooperation with Norway, Visits U.S. Marines
Speaker Ryan and Delegation Reaffirm Strong Partnership in Norway