RIGA - The Baltic states have committed to not reducing their defense spending below 2 percent of gross domestic product (GDP), according to a joint communique signed by the Baltic defense ministers during their meeting in the Latvian towns of Aluksne and Gulbene this week.
The Latvian Defense Ministry's web portal sargs.lv reports that in order to promote Baltic cooperation and defense, the ministers signed a trilateral communique pledging to maintain the planned size of defense budgets at the level of at least 2 percent of GDP, underlining the need for NATO to follow its deterrence policy in the face of the alliance's persistent challenges, which have not changed even amid the threats posed by the Covid-19 pandemic.
Latvian Defense Minister Artis Pabriks (For Development/For) indicated that the main objective of the ministers' in-person meeting was to coordinate the Baltic states' international positions in preparation for upcoming meetings of NATO defense ministers and that it was therefore essential to exchange views on issues concerning the U.S. and the European Union, as well as the Baltic states' position on international security policy issues.
Latvia and Estonia have already started cooperation on joint military procurement. This year, the two countries are working with Finland to purchase 6x6 Patria armored vehicles.
Estonian Defense Minister Juri Luik said that the ministers of defense discussed the future or regional capability building in the Baltic countries and emphasized the importance of continuing cooperation in said field.
Lithuanian Defense Minister Raimundas Karoblis noted that regional security did not improve during the Covid-19 pandemic as in addition to the threats posed by the novel coronavirus, Russian air forces staged military drills simulating attacks on overground targets as the Baltic naval forces were holding Baltops exercise in the Baltic Sea.
The ministers adopted a joint communique setting out the common positions of the Baltic ministers of defense on the current security topics concerning our region that were discussed during the meeting.
Latvia is the lead nation of Baltic defense cooperation in 2020. In 2021, that tole will be taken over by Lithuania.
The Baltic ministers of defense previously met by means of video meeting on May 18.