TALLINN - Nordic nations on Jan. 21 invited the Baltic States of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania to join a body that aims to smooth cooperation among the region’s armed forces, the Estonian military said, reports AFP. Lieutenant Commander Ingrid Muehling told AFP that the Baltic trio were formally asked to join NORDEFCO at the close of a two-day meeting of army leaders in the Estonian capital Tallinn.
“The head of the Swedish defense forces, General Sverker Goeranson, presented the Baltic States with an invitation to join NORDEFCO on behalf of all the chiefs of the Nordic defense forces,” said Muehling, who is spokeswoman of the Estonian military.
“The Nordic defense cooperation framework NORDEFCO was established in 2009 to promote and strengthen military cooperation between Sweden, Norway, Finland, Denmark and Iceland on strategy, foreign missions, training, joint development of some military schools and planning,” she added.
In a statement, Goeranson said it was in the interest of Nordic nations to ensure stability and security throughout the region.
NORDEFCO’s membership cuts across international organizations. Norway and Iceland remain outside the European Union, unlike Sweden, Finland, Denmark and the Baltic trio. But Sweden and Finland are not in NATO, while the other six nations are. “We are linked to the Nordic states through culture and history, we understand each other well and share the same values,” Estonian chief of staff Lieutenant General Ants Laaneots told reporters.
“We are all interested in maintaining security in the Baltic Sea region, which is one of the safest in the world at the moment,” Laaneots added.
The Baltic trio, with a total population of 6.7 million and a professional military of 20,500, have rocky relations with their giant former master Russia, which only withdrew its troops from their territory in 1994.