Baltic foreign ministers meet with U.S. Secretary of State
The foreign ministers of the Baltic States met with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry in Brussels on Thursday. They discussed their preparations for the upcoming NATO summit in Warsaw, the increase of NATO’s military presence in the Baltic area, and relations with Russia.
Kerry stressed that the United States was absolutely committed to NATO’s Article 5 and would defend allied countries in case of an attack.
Minister of Foreign Affairs Marina Kaljurand (independent) thanked the United States for its strong support and its dedication to guaranteeing the security of the Baltic States. Kaljurand said that the United States clearly supported the increase of the number of NATO troops in Estonia, and that detailed steps how to expand the alliance’s presence in the Baltic Sea area could be expected from the upcoming summit in Warsaw.
Increasing its military presence on the alliance’s eastern wing would improve NATO’s position in its relationship with Russia. The four foreign ministers agreed that as long as Russian aggression against Ukraine continued, there couldn’t be a return to normal relations.
Secretary of State John Kerry recognized the Baltic States’ efforts to improve their independent defense capacity. Both Latvia and Lithuania recently increased their defense spending, and Estonia is one of five NATO countries that allocates a defense budget amounting to 2% of its GDP.
The 2016 NATO summit will take place in Warsaw on Jul. 8 and 9.