RIGA, April 20 (LETA--BNS) - Commanders of Estonia's, Latvia's and Lithuania's defense forces on Wednesday decided that the three countries are to continue with the joint Baltic Battalion project under Latvia's leadership, thus contributing to their own as well as the alliance's security.
"In addition to welcoming and integrating the battle groups which are stationed to Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania to strengthen NATO's security, we have to further strengthen defense cooperation between ourselves by continuing with the joint infantry battalion project," commander of the Estonian defense forces Gen. Riho Terras was quoted by spokespeople as saying.
"We have trained joint battalions for already more than 20 years and this successful cooperation played a big role in us becoming members of NATO. Now we have to opportunity to contribute to our security as well as the security of our allies with the Baltic Battalion," Terras said.
Besides continuing with the Baltic Battalion project and issues regarding the increased presence of the allies, Terras, his Latvian counterpart Maj. Gen. Leonids Kalnins and Lithuanian colleague Lt. Gen. Jonas Vytautas Zukas also discussed the present state of the Baltic Defense College as well as the reforms to take place in the institution.
The three defense commanders decided to further develop sharing the maritime monitoring picture between the three countries to increase the Baltic countries' knowledge of what is happening on the Baltic Sea.
The defense forces of the three Baltic countries cooperate closely. In the framework of the Baltic countries' joint air surveillance network Baltnet the three countries man a control center in Karmelava, Lithuania. Baltbat, a battalion headed by Estonia, has participated in the NATO Response Force.