NATO ministers pledge solidarity with Estonia over Balticconnector investigation

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg.
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg. Source: SCANPIX/AFP

Defense ministers from NATO member states have joined with the organization's secretary general, Jens Stoltenberg, in pledging solidarity with Estonia in the aftermath of the rupture of the Balticconnector natural gas pipeline.

Speaking Thursday after day two of the NATO defense ministers meeting in Brussels, Pevkur said: "We have, together with both the  Supreme Allied Commander Europe and the [NATO] secretary general's office agreed to maintain contact and exchange information. They, in turn, require information from us, when formulating their own decisions."

All the defense ministers assembled pledged to aid Estonia and Finland in their investigation of last weekend's rupture in the Balticconnector pipeline, and the ensuing leak.

The alliance's secretary general, Jens Stoltenberg, said: "Allies expressed strong solidarity with Estonia and Finland as they work to establish the facts. NATO and allies are sharing information to support that effort."

"If this is proven to be a deliberate attack on critical infrastructure, it would be a serious incident and it would be met by a united and determined response," the secretary general went on.

In general, day two of the NATO defense ministers' summit was more of a quotidian affair, AK reported, and no substantive changes in messages relating to the Balticconnector rupture arose.

Another matter under discussion was Sweden's accession to the alliance and Turkey's legislative ratification of membership.

Minister Pevkur said: "According to the Turkish [defense] minister, decisions made by the Turkish parliament are not solely in his hands. We nonetheless hope that this will happen as quickly and immediately as possible. But essentially, the place at the table for Sweden is there."

Turkey's defense minister, Yaşar Güler, confirmed Ankara's ongoing support for Sweden's joining the alliance; Ankara along with Budapest had previously been holdouts, to the extent that Sweden, which applied to join at the same time as Finland last May, is still waiting, over six months after the latter's membership was formally finalized.

The assembled allied ministers reminded both Turkey and Hungary that they had approved in principle Sweden's accession and promised to support the process back in July, at the NATO summit in Vilnius, Lithuania.

At that time the time frame was supposed to see that accession taking place this month.

Secretary General Stoltenberg added that he was: "Glad that the Turkish defense minister confirmed that Turkey stands by the agreement from Vilnius to finalize Swedish accession. So I now expect that the Turkish government will submit the accession protocol to the grand national assembly (the Turkish legislature – ed.), and work with the assembly to ensure speedy ratification."

The other topics on the table at the Brussels summit included regional defense plans, and the main defense and security issues dominating the news at present – Israel and the Gaza Strip, and Kosovo and Serbia.


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Editor: Andrew Whyte, Marko Tooming

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