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Cooperation needed to boost Baltic, EU defense capacity - Latvian foreign minister
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    Cooperation needed to boost Baltic, EU defense capacity - Latvian foreign minister

    RIGA, Nov 10 (LETA) - The Baltic states must intensify cooperation within the Permanent Structured Cooperation on security and defense (PESCO) to boost their defense capacity and that of the EU, Latvian Foreign Minister Edgars Rinkevics said during the 23rd Baltic Council in Tallinn today.

    In his speech, Rinkevics drew attention to the issues of current importance in international relations addressing the economic contacts between the Baltic States and their cooperation in defense and security policy in the European Union (EU) and NATO, the Latvian Foreign Ministry said.

    The Latvian foreign minister expressed satisfaction over the intensification of cooperation in security and defense also at the EU level. It is very positive that all the three Baltic States have decided to join the PESCO, which the European Union Ministers for Foreign Affairs and Defense will confirm next week by signing a joint Notification on the establishment of PESCO, he said.

    "Launching PESCO will be a major step towards the strengthening of the EU's common defense and security policy. The Baltic states should actively make use of opportunities that PESCO provides for carrying out joint projects in the development of defense capabilities and ensuring military mobility, thereby reinforcing the security of the Baltic States and that of the EU as a whole," Rinkevics said.

    He stressed that the Baltic states should closely coordinate their activities ahead of the next NATO Summit in Brussels and highlighted essential tasks in this respect, such as the transformation of the Baltic Airspace Policing mission into a Baltic air defense system, the enhancement of NATO's forward presence in the Baltic Sea and improvement of cyber defense.

    "The formats of the Baltic states' cooperation help facilitate the way forward in various matters of importance for the entire region, and this also concerns projects on transport and energy," the Latvian foreign minister said. He welcomed progress with the implementation of the Rail Baltica project - the signing of the intergovernmental agreement by the Baltic heads of state earlier this year and its ratification by the parliaments. The agreement coming into effect demonstrates the long-term commitment of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania to the project, Rinkevics said, noting that "we have reached the stage when we can call the process irreversible".

    He also drew attention to challenges triggered by Brexit. "Work in the EU should go on, since a politically and economically consolidated and strong European Union is in all our interests. The European Union is not only a single market, it is first and foremost a union of values rooted in our historical legacy. Therefore, it is essential that the European Union remains on guard for the values such as human dignity, freedom, democracy, equality, the rule of law and human rights. We are aware that the aspect of aligning the standards of living among the Member States is of key importance for the unity and further development of the European Union; therefore our interests are vested in making this happen as soon as possible," the Latvian foreign minister said.

    The Latvian Foreign Ministry said that, in an official ceremony, Rinkevics was awarded the medal of the Baltic Assembly for upholding the cooperation and unity of the Baltic states.

    • Published: 10.11.2017 18:27
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