US President Barack Obama on Wedneday attributed the strength of North Atlantic Treaty Nations (NATO) to the member nations' democratic system of governance. He pledged that NATO would defend its Baltic members in times of crisis.
"We're stronger because we're democracies. We're not afraid of free and fair elections because true legitimacy can only come from one source, and that is the people," Obama said addressing people of Estonia at Nordea Concert Hall in Tallinn.
Revealing the advantages of freedom and democracy, Obama said that NATO countries are stronger because they are open economies. To illustrate his point, he cited Estonia's success of free markets, its integration with Europe, and implementation of tough reforms.
"You've become one of the most wired countries on Earth, a global leader in e-government and high-tech start-ups. The entrepreneurial spirit of the Estonian people has been unleashed. Your innovations, like Skype, are transforming the world," the President said, heaping praises.
Obama also underlined the unity of NATO members. This year the countries celebrated the 10th anniversary of the Baltics in NATO. Allaying skeptics doubts, NATO stood together and their troops have become stronger through mutual training exercises, Obama said.
Recalling the history of Baltic people's fight to secure democracy, Obama stressed that freedom needs the foundation of security. And that security is being guaranteed by the unity of NATO, he added. "Look at Afghanistan where our forces have sacrificed together to keep us safe and where in just three months the largest operation in NATO history will come to an end, as planned," Obama stated.
The President reiterated the United States' commitment to defending the territorial integrity of every single NATO ally, noting that more NATO aircraft patrol the skies, more American forces are rotating through each of the Baltic states, and more NATO ships patrol the Black Sea. "I believe our alliance should extend these defensive measures for as long as necessary," he added.
Obama said NATO must increase rapid response force, including facilities and infrastructure that can receive rapid reinforcements in case of any threat to any ally. This also includes the ability to meet unconventional threats, including propaganda campaigns that drive fears and division among people.
He also said that NATO allies should strive to make the alliance stronger further by investing in intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance and missile defense.