Estonia Cold on Joint Baltic Armed Forces Idea
Estonian Defense Minister Urmas Reinsalu and other defense policy makers have pored cold water on the idea of uniting the armies of the three Baltic countries, an idea most recently pitched by Latvian President Andris Berzins in an interview to the media on Friday.
“The current setup, where there is three separate militaries that cooperate and form temporary joint units for international tasks, is optimal,” Reinsalu told ETV on Sunday.
“The numbers currently are such that Estonia contributes 2 percent [of GDP to defense], and Latvia and Lithuania contribute a combined 2 percent. Also, in absolute sums, Estonia spends more on defense than either Latvia or Lithuania,” said Reinsalu, adding that neighboring Russia has doubled defense spending in the past four years.
“The armies of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania differ by size and structure. Latvia should focus on increasing defense spending to 2 percent of [GDP] first,” reserve Lt. Col. Leo Kunnas said.
Current cooperation projects between the three countries include joint procurements, temporary units on foreign missions for NATO and the EU, air defense and the Baltic Defense College in Tartu.