Estonia fully supports Lithuanian initiatives to enhance border security and to mitigate potential risks, and is following closely developments on the Belarusian and Russian borders with the European Union, President Alar Karis says.
The president made his remarks during a meeting with his Lithuanian counterpart, President Gitanas Nausėda, while attending this week's Three Seas Initiative (3SI) summit in Bucharest, Romania.
The two leaders discussed issues related to the summit and the security of the Baltic region, with President Karis noting that: "We can see that Russia is planning to significantly increase its military presence on the borders of the Baltic States and in Belarus, where Wagner fighters are also based."
Following a failed coup in southern Russia in mid-summer, the now-leaderless Wagner Group mercenaries were "exiled" to Belarus. Fears are that they may attempt to hang on to the coattails of migrants attempting to enter the EU, often being exhorted by Belarusian security services to do just that.
Belarus borders with Lithuania – whose capital, Vilnius, is not much more than 30km from the border – and with Latvia and Poland, so far as the EU goes.
"Russia's destabilizing approach will not change," the Estonian head of state added, via a press release, and confirmed that Estonia's readiness to assist Lithuania in responding to hybrid crises, as was the case during the migrant crisis of summer and autumn 2021.
President Karis noted that in this context, Baltic cooperation in all fields, in particular at NATO and EU levels, is crucial. This makes successful defense within the context of both organizations. paramount.
President Karis also wished President Nauseda and Lithuania a successful coordination in its preparation of the next 3SI summit, due to take place in Vilnius next spring.
President Karis also met this week with Ahmed Afif, Vice President of the Seychelles, taking the opportunity to express his appreciation that that Indian Ocean island nation had voted in favor of all six UN resolutions on Ukraine. "Together, small countries can make the world a better place," Karis said.
President Karis also noted the importance of dealing with environmental issues such as climate change, in the context of island countries like the Seychelles in particular, and invited Vice-President Afif and his country to take part in the annual Estonian-founded "World Cleanup Day," taking place next weekend.
Editor: Andrew Whyte
Source: Office of the President of the Republic of Estonia