MEP and former commander of the Estonian Defense Forces (EDF) Riho Terras (Isamaa) says that the best way for Lithuania to cope with the current migrant crisis on its border with Belarus would be to invoke Article 4 of the North Atlantic Treaty, adding that such a proposal would definitely benefit Estonia and so should be supported here.
Terras said: "There is a hybrid war underway on the Lithuanian border. It is a consistent attack through which the pressure on the Lithuanian state is gradually growing with each refugee flown in by Belarus from the Middle East and sent over the border".
"Involving NATO is the only right course of action here," he went on, according to BNS.
Article 4 of the North Atlantic Treaty states that: "The parties will consult together whenever, in the opinion of any of them, the territorial integrity, political independence or security of any of the parties is threatened," BNS reports.
Help for Lithuania would also serve as a deterrent both to Belarusian leader Alexander Lukashenko and to President of the Russian Federation Vladimir Putin.
"Members of NATO remaining united and indeed using the alliance's articles to meet its objective in jointly and duly defending its member states would also increase our credibility in the eyes of opportunistic dictators. Attitudes towards Estonia may also change somewhat, if we firmly have Lithuania's back," Terras, who became an MEP after the 2019 European elections, where Estonia subsequently received a seventh, post-Brexit mandate, went on.
Estonia has already sent barbed wire, tents and other equipment to Lithuania, whose capital, Vilnius, lies only around 30km from the border with Belarus.
Article 4 has been invoked four times by Turkey, in 2003 over the Iraq War, in June 2012 after the shooting down of a Turkish military jet by Syria, in October 2012 after Syrian attacks on Turkey and their counterattacks, and in February 2020 after increasing tensions arising from the Northwestern Syria offensive.
An Article 4 meeting was called by Latvia, Lithuania, and Poland in March 2014 in response to the extraterritorial Crimean crisis, but Article 4 was not invoked that time.
Editor: Andrew Whyte