“In the run-up to the NATO summit, the key task of the Baltic States is to ensure the continued focus of the Alliance to our region. From the Warsaw Summit NATO has done a lot to rebuild deterrence and security at the borders of the Eastern Alliance, but we must ensure the continuation of initiated security initiatives, “said Minister of National Defence Raimundas Karoblis yesterday, on May 24, after the meeting with Latvian and Estonian Defence Ministers Raimonds Bergmanis and Jüri Luiku in Klaipėda.
The main focus of the discussion was coordination of the positions on the key issues of the NATO agenda.
“It is very important for NATO to rapidly move the necessary forces and that the Alliance demonstrate readiness to organize a large-scale redeployment exercise in our region,” Estonian Defence Minister J. Luiku said.
“This meeting in Lithuania underlined our common views and understanding about Baltic cooperation in order to ensure the security and defence not only in the Baltic region, but in all NATO states. Especially it is important this year, when we celebrate 100 years anniversary of independence of each of the Baltic countries,” the Latvian Minister of Defence R. Bergmanis said.
According to Minister of National Defence of Lithuania R. Karoblis, at the Summit in Brussels in July the Alliance will assess the effectiveness of the deterrence and defence measures adopted so far in the Baltic region, and will assess the need for additional measures.
Several key changes that will be initiated by the heads of states are already known. It is planned that the heads of states will approve a new, far more powerful NATO command structure, with the establishment of new headquarters in the US, Germany and, possibly, in Poland. These are important and positive changes that directly influence the effectiveness of NATO’s actions in the Baltic region.
Another very important initiative, which will be announced by the heads of states, is the NATO Readiness Initiative, which aims to increase the readiness of NATO forces throughout the Alliance, enabling NATO forces to respond in a short time to large-scale military aggression. At the summit Lithuania together with other Baltic States will traditionally raise the air defence strengthening issues.
At present, the Alliance is actively debating the sharing of an equivalent burden, and the three Baltic States will be among the eight allies who allocate 2 percent or more of their GDP for defence purposes. Ministers emphasized the need to comply with this commitment.
In the meeting of the Baltic Defence Ministers also in detail discussed the issues of strengthening the European Union’s security and defence and strengthening of the relations with the USA.
The agreements reached between the US and Baltic States’ Presidents last month relate directly to Armed Forces of the Baltic States. As a result, Lithuanian, Latvian and Estonian defence ministers agreed to work together to ensure the permanent deployment of the US forces in the Baltic States, in the form of military exercises with US troops, aligning military procurement priorities. “Only by actively working together we can achieve the best results in cooperation with the United States,” R.Karoblis emphasized.
During the meeting in Klaipėda, the Baltic Defence Ministers also visited the Lithuanian Navy Headquarters, Sea and Coastal Surveillance Centre and the liquid gas ship “Independence”.
Communique signed by the defence ministers of the three Baltic States.
Cooperation with the Baltic States is one of the main priorities of Lithuania’s international cooperation. Meetings of Baltic States’ Defence Ministers and Chiefs of Defence are held twice a year. They discuss political issues of regional security, jointly developed practical cooperation projects such as the Baltic Defencve College, the assignment of joint unit of the Baltic States to NATO forces, Baltic States’ airspace surveillance and control system, the Baltic Naval Squadron. During the meetings proposals are made for further priorities in the field of defence cooperation between the Baltic States. Political directors, Chiefs of Joint Staffs, Air, Land, Navy, Special Forces Commanders and experts of various levels also meet on a regular basis.