Baltics, US agree to boost defense ties

  • 2016-08-23
  • BNS/TBT Staff

RIGA - US Vice President Joe Biden and the presidents of Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia decided in Riga today to strengthen ties between the nations in the field of defense.

In a joint declaration, Biden and presidents Toomas Hendrik Ilves, Raimonds Vejonis, and Dalia Grybauskaite announced that intensified co-operation is essential in response to the fluctuating nature of safety in modern times.

"On the occasion of Vice President Biden's visit to Latvia, we, the United States of America, Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania, reaffirm our strategic alliance. Faced with an unpredictable security environment, we commit to deepening our co-operation and our efforts to ensure security and stability in the region, as part of NATO's approach to collective defense," the document reads.

According to the declaration, as asserted at the NATO summit in Warsaw, the most vital responsibility of the alliance is to protect and defend territory and populations, as stated in Article 5 of the Washington Treaty. NATO has responded to the altered security environment by fortifying its deterrence and defense posture, including through a forward presence in the eastern part of the alliance. The Baltic countries value NATO’s efforts, in addition to the noteworthy and visible US presence in the region, which has illustrated member states’ collective solidarity and resolve to aid one other.

"The United States, Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania affirm that we must keep our Alliance strong. Building on the commitments made at the Warsaw Summit to invest in robust, flexible, and interoperable military capabilities, and taking into account the successful example of joint security co-operation since 1993 under the State Partnership Programme, the United States, Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania intend to reinforce and deepen our defense co-operation to promote regional security," the document states.

"Building national resilience — including bolstering our ability to defend against hybrid and cyber threats, improving civil preparedness, and enhancing protection of critical infrastructure — is an essential element of collective defense. Therefore, we affirm that we must focus on aligning US security assistance and deterrence measures, including the US European Reassurance Initiative, and continued significant investments by the Baltic States in order to ensure that our mutual investments will effectively support NATO's deterrence and collective defense, as well as promote national and regional security and resilience. Furthermore, the Baltic States reconfirm their commitment to allocate the necessary budgetary resources for defense spending," it says.

The United States, Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania hope to convene on a routine basis to talk over vital common and individual defense and security priorities, focusing on land, air, and maritime defense; border security; law enforcement; national resilience; and transnational threats, with the aim to improve intra- and intergovernmental coordination and develop regional efficiencies. The United States and Baltics also plan to keep exploring fields for boosted joint and regional co-operation in other security and resilience fields — for instance, cyber defense, energy security, and critical infrastructure protection.

"This co-operation is intended to strengthen NATO and promote regional co-operation, stability, and security. By improving our ability to address conventional and unconventional threats, including hybrid threats, our co-operation will enhance individual and collective defense and national resilience, as well as uphold our collective efforts towards a Europe whole, free, prosperous, and at peace," reads the declaration.