Baltic States to deploy a joint Baltic Battalion to NATO exercise in 2015

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Meeting of NATO defence ministers in Brussels | Photo courtesy of www.nato.int

Meeting of NATO defence ministers in Brussels | Photo courtesy of www.nato.int

Lithuania’s Minister of National Defence Juozas Olekas attended NATO Defence Ministers meeting in Brussels (Belgium) on 22-23 October, 2013 where discussions focused on cyber security, NATO exercises, training mission in Afghanistan and NATO-Russia co-operation, the Ministry of National Defence has informed.

The NATO Ministers discussed the circumstances and measures required to render assistance for NATO member states in cases of cyber emergency. Minister Olekas underscored the need to generate mechanisms facilitating the provision of NATO assistance to the allies in case of a cyber attack.

“I fully sustain the idea that cyber defence is primarily a case for national defence of NATO member states. However, large-scale cyber attacks against the allies are still a threat and should trigger a collective response,” Olekas said.

The Minister also underlined the importance of NATO-EU co-operation in cyber defence, and expressed a hope that the issue will be addressed at the December European Council.

The Defence Ministers also discussed the progress achieved in the implementation of the Connected Forces Initiative (CFI). CFI aims at maintaining interoperability of the forces of the allies as the operation in Afghanistan is losing pace.

NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen and Lithuanian Defence Minister Juozas Olekas | Photo by Alfredas Pliadis

NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen and Lithuanian Defence Minister Juozas Olekas | Photo by Alfredas Pliadis

It was agreed to organise a large-scale exercise in 2015 to mark the beginning and, at the same time, commence the implementation of CFI. The major military training event will take place in Spain, Portugal and Italy. The Defence Ministers of Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia announced that the Baltic Battalion (BALTBAT) will be delegated to the exercise. Exercise STEAFAST JAZZ 2013 to be held in the Baltic Region this November will serve as a lead-in for the beginning to implement the Connected Forces Initiative.

NATO-Russian session attended by the Minister of Defence of Russia Sergei Shoigu addressed NATO-Russian military co-operation, situation in Syria and missile defence issues.

Minister Olekas underlined that military co-operation with Russia was growing stronger; however, it needed to be based on the principles of transparency and reciprocity. “We welcome Russia’s decision to share information on national military exercises more openly and transparently but transparency is what we still miss as demonstrated by the case of the exercise Zapad,” Olekas said.

Defence Minister Juozas Olekas (left) | Photo courtesy of the Ministry of National Defence

Defence Minister Juozas Olekas (left) | Photo courtesy of the Ministry of National Defence

At an ISAF session the Ministers evaluated the course of transfer of lead responsibility for security to the Government of Afghanistan and the progress achieved in training officers of the Afghan National Security Forces.

While in Brussels Lithuanian Minister of National Defence also met with the Minister of Defence of Ukraine Pavel Lebedev. Minister Juozas Olekas thanked his Ukrainian counterpart for the co-operation in Afghanistan and promised to further support close co-operation of Ukraine and Western countries. Olekas also expressed a hope that Ukraine will sign the agreement regarding formation of a joint brigade of Lithuania, Poland and Ukraine, LITPOLUKRBRIG, in the short run. The Ministers also agreed to maintain the pace of bilateral co-operation between the two countries while at the same time exploring new opportunities for cooperation.

Minister of National Defence Juozas Olekas and Minister of Defence of Montenegro Milica Pejanovic Durisic also signed a bilateral defence cooperation agreement in Brussels.

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