Baltics seek stronger defense plans at major NATO summit

  • 2014-09-04
  • By Rayyan Sabet-Parry and wire reports, RIGA

The NATO summit takes place on September 4-5 (photo: twitter)

Key Baltic officials are attending a major NATO summit in Wales today to seek assurances on greater defense plans for the region amid the crisis in the Ukraine.

The major NATO summit in Wales comes after U.S. President Barack Obama made a stop over visit in Estonia on September 3. The President told the Baltic States it was 'unwavering' in it's commitment to defend NATO allies and said more U.S. troops would be based in Baltic army bases. 

Key issues to be discussed at the summit will include the Ukraine crisis, threat to the Middle East region caused by radical Islamists, and NATO forces' extraction from Afghanistan.

Attending the summit from the Baltics will be Lithuania's President Dalia Grybauskaite, Latvian President Andris Berzins, Latvia's Defense Minister Raimonds Vejonis and Foreign Minister Edgars Rinkevics. Estonia's Prime Minister Taavi Roivas and other key ministers will also be in attendance.

U.S. President Barack Obama, French President Francois Hollande, and about sixty other state leaders and ministers will participate in the summit, the AFP news agency reports.

Grybauskaite's press service reports an 'agreement will be sought on a more visible and permanent allied presence in our region, NATO's enhanced readiness to respond quickly to threats, continued renewal of defense plans for the Baltic countries, regular military exercises, and ability to respond to cyber and energy security threats.

The statement adds: "According to the president, these measures are necessary for ensuring both regional and transatlantic security," 

The summit will focus on matters concerning increasing defense budgets of member states, expanding partnership, and NATO open door policy, as well as the conclusion of the transition phase of the International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan, and the initiation of the next training phase. 

The previous NATO summit took place in Chicago in 2012. Great Britain hosted the summit back in 1990, when NATO leaders were greeted by former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher.

In order to keep the peace during the summit, 9,000 British police officers have been involved in a large-scale security operation in Wales.