Minister of Defence Jüri Luik met via video bridge with his Latvian and Lithuanian colleagues, Artis Pabriks and Raimundas Karoblis. The focus of the discussion was the broader impact of Covid-19 on the field of defence, preparations for the soon to be held meeting of the NATO Ministers of Defence, and defence cooperation between the Baltic Republics.
The Ministers of Defence emphasised that regardless of the situation associated with the virus, Baltic defence cooperation is tight and the defence forces of our countries remain at their state of readiness. It is clear that security threats remain for our region and the need for reliable deterrence has not gone away. Even in the face of the virus, NATO Allies must find a way to continue cooperating in the area of training exercises. Our goal is to maintain the readiness of the Defence Forces and strengthen deterrence, which is why the international exercises planned for 2020 and 2021 must be carried out, stated Luik, Pabriks and Karoblis.
The Ministers of Defence stated that the economic effects of the coronavirus are likely to put pressure on defence budgets and investments.
"We must work to ensure that defence budgets remain at least at the current level, both in terms of NATO and the European Union's planned military mobility investments," noted Luik. "Ensuring transatlantic security and military capabilities will continue to require resources and joint coordinated efforts", he added.
The Ministers also approved a traditional joint communiqué (65.07 KB, PDF), in which the common positions of the Baltic Ministers of Defence on topical security issues concerning our region were reflected.
Latvia is serving as the leading country in Baltic defence cooperation in 2020, with Lithuania set to take over in 2021. The previous meeting of the Baltic Defence Ministers took place in December 2019, in Tallinn. Given the fact that the Baltic Republics have been among the first in the European Union to open their borders to each other's citizens, the Ministers expressed the hope that they would soon be able to meet for a direct discussion.
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