President Kaljulaid: Work to strengthen NATO eastern flank must continue

President Kaljulaid and President Duda in Košice, 28 February 2019.
President Kaljulaid and President Duda in Košice, 28 February 2019. Source: Office of the President

At a meeting of heads of state of Central and Eastern European countries on Thursday, President Kersti Kaljulaid said that in recent years NATO has reacted adequately to security threats along its eastern flank. Still, developing the alliance's deterrence posture is far from completed, the president added.

At the meeting in the Slovakian city of Košice, President Kaljulaid said that the NATO battlegroups stationed in the Baltic states, Poland and Romania on the whole have had a very positive and stabilising effect on the security of the region.

"At the same time, we need to conclusively solve the issue of how the deployment of allied reinforcements to the region would take place in the event of a crisis. To that end, we need defence plans that are detailed enough, a rapidly acting command structure and regular training exercises to rehearse," the president said. "We also need to think how to transform the air policing mission in the Baltic states quickly into air defence, should this be needed," she added.

The president also emphasised that NATO as well as the defence cooperation within the European Union augment and complement each other. "Throughout its history, the European Union has acted in its redistribution of resources in such a way that the shortcomings of some regions or fields are eliminated by using common resources," she said. "In [NATO and EU] defence cooperation, we haven't come to that yet, although we could in the future," she added.

President Kaljulaid also met with Polish President Andrzej Duda. The two heads of state discussed the challenges facing NATO as well as bilateral cooperation between Estonia and Poland. Topics on the agenda also included NATO's eastern flank, cybersecurity issues and cooperation within various international formats.

The summit in Košice was held in the Bucharest 9 (B9) format. The B9 countries include Romania, Poland, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Hungary and Slovakia.

Editor: Dario Cavegn

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