Ministry of National Defence of the Republic of Lithuania

12/08/2017 | News release | Distributed by Public on 12/08/2017 08:34

Baltic Defence Ministers agreed on defence policy priorities for next year

Further NATO adaptation, implementation of the European Union security initiatives, and close cooperation with allies in ensuring security of Baltic region are the key points on next year's Baltic defence policy agenda, Baltic Defence Ministers agreed at the meeting in Liepaja (Latvia) on December 8.

Minister of National Defence Raimundas Karoblis, Minister of Defence of Estonia Jüri Luik, and Minister of Defence of Latvia Raimonds Bergmanis discussed regional security and Baltic defence cooperation.

'Last year was extraordinary in terms of changes in the security situation: one of the decisions of the Warsaw Summit, deployment of the NATO enhanced Forward Presence in the Baltic states, was successfully implemented, new important initiatives for enhancing EU security and NATO-EU cooperation were launched. The same estimation of security threats among partners help strengthening the security of NATO's eastern borders and the territorial indivisibility of the Baltic states, therefore our task for next year to ensure the launched security initiatives are continued and to seek further support from NATO allies, particularly, the U.S.,' Minister R. Karoblis said. The new U.S. defence budget is proposed to authorise additional USD 100 million for the security of the Baltic states.

Lithuania takes over the lead of the Baltic Security and Defence Cooperation as of the beginning of next year. According to R.Karoblis, Lithuania will seek to use it for ensuring proper preparation of the Baltic states for the NATO Summit of summer 2018 where the final decision on the new NATO Command Structure is expected to be made. 'Simplified movement of allied forces across borders is still important in the context of the region as well as of the entire Alliance and the European Union. Therefore we will seek to achieve it by removing administrational, legal and physical barriers,' R. Karoblis stressed. According to the Minister, the Baltic states also have to maintain a unified stance on air and maritime support to the NATO eFP in the Baltics and Poland, as well as to seek a speedier implementation of concrete NATO decisions, to strengthen the defensive and deterrent posture of the Alliance.

The Ministers underscored that all three Baltic states would allocate 2 percent of GDP for defence as of 2018. They also pointed out that a significant progress was achieved in upgrading the Baltic states armed forces, and also acknowledged the necessity for continued modernisation. The Ministers stressed that sufficient defence financing was essential in ensuring the security of the Alliance and reiterated that the 2 percent of GDP for defence was by no means the ceiling.

Defence Minister of Lithuania, the country to which the lead of the Baltic Security and Defence Cooperation in 2018 is transferred, thanked his Latvian counterpart for facilitating successful cooperation. 'The Baltic cooperation grew stronger in 2017. We all can feel its importance because our close combined efforts bring excellent results for our region.'

POC: Public Relations Advisor to the Minister of National Defence Vita Ramanauskaitė, +370 62081779.