Anders Fogh Rasmussen (left), Andris Berzins and Barack Obama in Chicago. Photo courtesy of president.lv
CHICAGO - President of Latvia Andris Berzins is attending the NATO summit in Chicago, and during the opening session on May 20, he appeared before the gathering to announce that “Latvia has decided on how to offer support for the development of Afghanistan after NATO’s military operations there draw to a close.
We have always taken part in and supported the mission of the allies in Afghanistan. In this context, the Northern Distribution Network is a particularly important project with long-term prospects in terms of support for the regional economy. Latvia welcomes this approach and will continue to support the development of the cargo distribution network, with the goal of offering it to commercial projects in future, as well.”
During interviews with journalists after the first high-level working session for NATO heads of state and government, President Berzins said that the majority of leaders praised the achievements of Latvia and the Baltic States in supporting the approach of smart defense, adding that one of the best examples of such a project has been the process of air patrols to cover Baltic airspace. Asked about discussions at the summit, the President said that most speakers insisted that defense budget issues require immediate attention, but also that it is essential at this time to understand that economic difficulties have affected the majority of member states, and that means that the problems pose new challenges to the entire alliance. President Berzins said that issues related to common defense and individual responsibility are linked, and each NATO member state must take on responsibility for addressing these matters.
As far as the Northern Distribution Network is concerned, the President said several times that it must become a successful project that involves the allies, Russia, Central Asia and Afghanistan. Delegates at the summit also concluded that thoughtful and harmonized budget planning, mutual co-operation among member states, and the sensible use of budget resources by the alliance will help NATO to achieve its stated goal – implementation of considered and effective security policies during an economic crisis during which frugality and budget cuts are playing an important role in the economic recovery of NATO member states.