Regional defense integration discussed

  • 2011-01-13
  • From wire reports

WORKING TOGETHER: Baltic defense ministers (left to right) Rasa Jukneviciene, Jaak Aaviksoo and Artis Pabriks are ready for closer cooperation.

VILNIUS - The Baltic States should seek closer defense cooperation, and Lithuania could pull together the efforts of the Baltic States in developing the joint projects on air forces, special operation forces and energy security, the Lithuanian national defense minister proposed at a meeting with her Estonian and Latvian counterparts, reports news agency ELTA. On Dec. 16-17, Lithuania’s National Defense Minister Rasa Jukneviciene met with her Estonian and Latvian counterparts Jaak Aaviksoo and Artis Pabriks in Tartu to discuss defense cooperation among the Baltic States, relevant issues of NATO and regional cooperation with the Nordic countries.

Speaking about the Baltic cooperation, Minister Jukneviciene said that the cooperation should move into a new phase, that of Baltic defense integration, i.e. the countries should seek even greater defense cooperation to ensure the visibility of joint activities and benefits of other joint projects.
According to Jukneviciene, each Baltic country should specialize in certain areas where it has the most experience. For example, Lithuania could focus the efforts of the Baltic States to work together in developing joint air forces, special operations forces and energy security projects.

During the meeting, the ministers also stressed the need to continue to develop and strengthen cooperation with the Nordic countries. Jukneviciene particularly emphasized the importance of the participation in the European Union battle group and the Baltic Defense College, the organization of joint regional exercises, and cooperation in special operations forces.
Speaking about the NATO air policing mission, the ministers stressed that it is a very important and successful mission in the Baltic countries, which should also be developed in the future. The ministers discussed the possibilities of improving the conditions for the NATO contingents in the Baltic air space to ensure that this mission would involve more and more NATO countries.

The ministers also discussed the results of the recent NATO summit in Lisbon, which approved the new NATO strategic concept.