At the Baltic Defence Committee’s meeting in Tartu (Estonia) on June 19–20 Minister of National Defence Raimundas Karoblis and his Latvian and Estonian counterparts Artis Pabriks and Jüri Luik agreed on mutual stance, particularly concerning NATO air defence, ahead of the upcoming NATO Defence Ministers’ meeting.
At the meeting on Thursday Baltic Defence Ministers discussed the possibilities to increase the air defence capabilities in the Baltic region. “ Lithuania is seeking along with Latvia and Estonia that the NATO Air Policing Mission could be restructured into a NATO Air Defence Mission if there is a need to. It means that NATO fighter aircraft on standby in the region could take up combat missions in the event of a crisis,” Minister R. Karoblis said.
According to Minister R. Karoblis, as we are seeking more frequent air exercises in the Baltic region, Lithuania along with Latvia and Estonia should make joint efforts to improve the exercise conditions.
Lithuanian, Latvian and Estonian Ministers also discussed in depth other points on the NATO agenda – progress of the Readiness Initiative, multinational operations and missions, EU defence initiatives in PESCO and EDF formats, and defence cooperation with the United States.
Significant attention at the meeting was paid to joint trilateral Baltic projects – development of a joint recognised maritime picture capability in the region, and development of special forces’ cooperation.
The meeting was concluded with the three Baltic Defence Ministers’ signature of a Joint Communique.
After the trilateral meeting Defence Minister R. Karoblis, Speaker of the Seimas Viktoras Pranckietis, Presidents and Defence Ministers of Latvia and Estonia attended commemoration of the 20th anniversary of the Baltic Defence College (BALDEFCOL) and a joint course graduation ceremony.
Next trilateral meeting of the Baltic Defence Minsters is schedules for November.
Cooperation with the other Baltic states is one of the main Lithuania’s international cooperation priorities. Baltic Defence Ministers and Chiefs of Defence are meeting biannually to discuss political aspects of regional security, jointly develop practical cooperation projects, such as the Baltic Defence College, assignment of a joint Baltic unit to NATO forces, Baltic Air Surveillance and Control System, Baltic Naval Squadron. Further priorities of the Baltic Defence Cooperation are proposed at such meetings. Baltic Defence Policy Directors, chiefs of joint staffs, Commanders of air, land, naval, special forces, and experts of various levels are meeting on a regular basis as well.