Yesterday, at their meeting in Stockholm, Nordic and Baltic undersecretaries of the ministries of defence admitted that the views of the countries concerning the regional security situation and cooperation are uniform and there is a consensus regarding these fields, regardless of whether the parties belong to NATO or not.
During the meeting, in which U.S. Deputy Secretary of Defense Bob Work also participated, a thorough discussion took place regarding the regional security situation and various defence cooperation formats. A collective look ahead at the NATO Summit in Warsaw was also taken, along with the impact of the decisions that will be made there on security for the region.
At the press conference, U.S. Deputy Secretary of Defense Bob Work stated that he received strong confirmation at the meeting of the fact that together we are stronger than apart and that together it is possible to strengthen the current methods of deterrence.
“Together, we are going to be able to make sure that we have a very secure, safe Baltic and high-north region in which all the citizens of all of our countries will live prosperously and safely," said Work.
According to Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Defence Jonatan Vseviov, the participation of such a high-ranking official from the United States in a security-related meeting for our region demonstrates that the region is a priority for the United States.
“It is worth noting how important NATO's largest member considers our regional security questions to be," said Vseviov. “We have held continuous working level consultations with the United States on the topic of regional security; recently U.S. Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter hosted Estonian Minister of Defence Hannes Hanso, in Washington, and now the number two official at the Pentagon is participating in our meeting.“
The Nordic-Baltic co-operation or NB8 is a regional co-operation format that includes 8 countries: Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Iceland, Finland, Latvia, Lithuania, and Estonia. The countries perform continuous defence related cooperation among themselves and representatives from various levels meet at regular intervals to exchange information and facilitate further cooperation.
Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Defence, Jonatan Vseviov, hosted his Latvian colleague, Jānis Garisons, with whom possibilities for enhanced defence cooperation were mapped out.
The two discussed the topics of the approaching NATO Summit in Warsaw, questions concerning NATO's defensive positions and methods of deterrence, as well as bilateral and Baltic defence cooperation.
“I am happy to confirm that our views on the questions discussed are practically identical. Close defence related cooperation, as well as the presence of allies in the region, is very important to Estonian and Latvian security," said Vseviov. “We will continue to monitor developments concerning the security situation of the region and cooperate closely together. At the same time, I was pleased to be able to congratulate my colleague on Latvia’s consistent increase of its defence budget.”
Today, the Secretary of State of the Ministry of Defence of Latvia visited the 1st Infantry Brigade’s Tapa armed forces campus, where Brigade Commander Lieutenant Colonel Veiko-Vello Palm gave an overview of the Brigade’s development plans and introduced the city’s infrastructure.
At their meeting in Tallinn, Minister of Defence Hannes Hanso and Belgian Defence Minister Steven Vandeput discussed the security situation in the Baltic Sea region and across Europe, and the ministers spoke about further defence related cooperation and the fight against terrorism.
“The contribution by the Kingdom of Belgium to the security of Estonia and the entire Baltic Sea region as a whole is a shining example of NATO’s collective defence,” said Minister of Defence Hannes Hanso. “Estonia is truly grateful for the active contribution to our air policing by NATO member Belgium. “
F-16 fighter aircraft from the Kingdom of Belgium were the first Allied aircraft to begin air policing from Siauliai, immediately after Estonia's accession to NATO in 2004. This is the sixth time that fighters from the Kingdom of Belgium are participating in air policing in Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, and Poland, and the first time they are doing so using aircraft stationed at Ämari Air Base. Belgian F-16 fighter aircraft were previously stationed at air bases in Lithuania and Poland.
Belgian anti-aircraft personnel have participated on numerous occasions in live fire exercises with the Mistral Short-Range Air-Defence Missile Systems in the Estonian training exercise Kevadtorm. A Belgian anti-aircraft subunit will also be participating in the Kevadtorm training exercise beginning next week. Belgian Navy ships have for years been participating alongside Estonian Navy ships in NATO Mine Countermeasures Group 1.
Defence Minister Steven Vandeput confirmed that at the beginning of next year Belgium will be sending a representative to serve in the NATO Cooperative Cyber Defence Centre of Excellence and plans to participate in air policing on a rotating basis.
During their meeting, the defence ministers discussed bilateral security related cooperation, preparations for the NATO Summit in Warsaw, the security situation in the Baltic Sea region and across Europe, the situation in the Middle East and the fight against terrorism.
During his visit to Estonia, Steven Vandeput will meet with Commander of the Defence Forces Lieutenant General Riho Teras and Chairman of the National Defence Committee of the Riigikogu Marko Mihkelson; he will visit the NATO Cooperative Cyber Defence Centre of Excellence, meet with members of the Belgian Air Force stationed at Ämari Air Base, and lay a wreath at the War of Independence Memorial. Members of the Belgian Parliament’s National Defence Committee are accompanying the Minister of Defence on his trip to Estonia.
Today in Kadriorg President Toomas Hendrik Ilves accepted Letters of Credence from the Ambassador of the Kyrgyz Republic, Kubanychbek Omuraliev, who resides in Minsk; the Ambassador of the Republic of Indonesia, Wiwiek Setyawati Firman, who resides in Helsinki, the Ambassador of the Republic of Slovenia, Robert Krmelj, who resides in Warsaw and the Ambassador of the People's Republic of Bangladesh, Muhammad Abdul Muhith, who resides in Copenhagen.
The President of Finland, Sauli Niinistö, and his wife, Jenni Haukio, will pay their first state visit to the Republic of Estonia on 17 and 18 May. In Tallinn, the Finnish Head of State will be met by President Toomas Hendrik Ilves; the guest will also meet with the Speaker of the Parliament, Eiki Nestor, and the Prime Minister, Taavi Rõivas.
Veterans' Day is a reminder and recognition of the bravery of the men and women who have served on foreign missions, President Toomas Hendrik Ilves said at the charity dinner for the Carolin Illenzeer Fund, stressing that he is proud of the Estonian Defence Forces and the professionalism and dedication of Estonian soldiers.
Today, President Toomas Hendrik Ilves acquainted himself with the most extensive real-time technical network defence cyber exercise, "Locked Shields 2016", which is organised by the NATO Cooperative Cyber Defence Centre of Excellence; 550 participants from 19 countries were engaged and used technologies, computer networks and attacks methods that mimic reality as closely as possible.
Appearing at the conference “Defending Europe’s Eastern Flank” in Washington, D.C., Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Defence Jonatan Vseviov emphasised the need for a credible military presence on NATO’s eastern border.
“The presence of Allied forces with greater political and military credibility is required to promote deterrance and protect the Baltic States. We are working towards that goal, to make sure that the corresponding decisions are made this summer at the NATO Summit in Warsaw,” said Vseviov yesterday, at the influential Atlantic Council think tank conference.
At the conference held on the premises of the United States Senate, Permanent Secretary Vseviov discussed topics relating to the NATO Summit with Lithuanian Minister of National Defence Juozas Olekas and Ellen Tauscher, former U.S. Representative and Under Secretary for Arms Control and International Security Affairs.
At his meeting with Rob Wittman, Chairman of the Readiness Subcommittee of the U.S. House Committee on Armed Services, Vseviov thanked the U.S. Congress for its strong support of Estonia’s independence and security, from the policy of refusing to recognise annexation by the Soviet Union to the current funding of methods of deterrence. At the same time, Vseviov also confirmed that Estonia will continue funding national defence at 2% of GDP, to which additional allocations will be made to cover the costs of receiving Allied forces.
At his meeting with Acting Assistant Secretary of State for Political-Military Affairs Tina Kaidanow, Vseviov discussed US security assistance to Estonia.
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