At the 23 April meeting in Tallinn, the Ministers of Defence of the Baltic States confirmed their mutual aim of increasing their countries defence expenditures to two per-cent of GDP and agreed upon the continuation of co-operation between ground forces.
Estonian Minister of Defence Jaak Aaviksoo, his Latvian colleague Imants Liegis and Lithuanian Minister of National Defence Rasa Jukneviciene?, all stressed that financial, economic and the at times accompanying social crises, have raised the importance of security in all of the states. To also provide for security during difficult economic times, the ministers deemed it to be necessary to maintain defence expenditures at the permissible level relative to the general prosperity of the country also in the case of decreasing economic conditions. According to Aaviksoo, the capability of achieving this will be a measure of our reliability.
In addition, the ministers agreed that the co-operation of the ground forces of the Baltic States would definitely also continue after the standby period of the Baltic Battalion in the NATO Response Forces ends. “The co-operation of the ground forces of the three countries has been given a strong foundation thanks to the participation in the NRF,” stated Minister of Defence Jaak Aaviksoo.
The minister’s of defence also discussed in detail the co-operation of the three countries in the area of defence related procurements. The ministers agreed that it is important to analyse in detail the legal and procedural differences between the three countries, the bypassing of which would make it easier to prepare future strategic defence related procurements.
“An economic crisis is a time when we should be thinking of increasing defence related co-operation and try to simplify the co-operation of the countries related to procurements. The experiences of the three countries show that mutual defence related procurements could, in the future, save much of our tax-payer’s money – and we are talking of sums that reach up to BEEK 1,” said Aaviksoo.
On Friday, 24 April, at 9.30 in the morning, the ministers will participate in an open discussion of the International Centre for Defence Studies on the topic of how the economic crisis and budget cuts are influencing the security and the defence capability of the Baltic States, also discussed will be the results of the recent NATO summit and future prospects for the defence co-operation of the Baltic States. Lithuanian Minister of National Defence Rasa Jukneviciene?, Estonian Minister of Defence Jaak Aaviksoo and Janis Garisons, Undersecretary of State for Defence Planning of the Latvian Defence Ministry, will participate in the discussion.
At 14.30 in the afternoon, the Estonian and Lithuanian Minister’s of Defence will visit the F-15C tactical fighter aircraft of the United States that are currently stopping at the Tallinn airport.
The meeting of the Ministers of Defence of the Baltic States takes place regularly twice a year. The last meeting of the ministers took place in December of last year in Lithuania, the next meeting of the ministers of defence will be held in the second half of the year in Latvia.