Today, at the meeting at Ämari Air Base, the Ministers of Defence of the Baltic States agreed on a joint ammunition procurement, on contributing a joint unit to the NATO Response Force, and on increasing the HNS-package for the Baltic air policing mission.
Ministers of Defence Urmas Reinsalu, Artis Pabriks and Rasa Juknevičienė reached agreement that this year the Baltic States will undertake joint ammunition procurement for the Carl Gustaf recoilless rifle.
Minister of Defence Reinsalu said that in these economically difficult times, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania have to be smart in their spending. “The joint ammunition procurement helps to save taxpayer’s money in each of the Baltic States because a larger quantity means a smaller price. This procurement will ensure that our Defence Forces have the ammunition reserves necessary to increase our defence capability,” said Reinsalu.
It was also agreed that in 2016 Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania will contribute at least one joint battalion-sized unit to the NATO Response Force (NRF). The Baltic States also contributed a joint battalion to the NRF in 2010.
The Ministers of Defence also decided to increase the joint HNS-package for the Baltic air policing mission from the current EUR 2.2 million to EUR 5 million annually in 2015. Funds of the HNS-package will be used to pay, in part, for the fuel used by allied fighter aircraft, and for the housing and transport costs of allied troops.
According to Minister of Defence Reinsalu, it is clear that the Baltic States would not have the financial means to develop their own fighter aircraft capability. “Therefore EUR 5 million annually, combined for all three Baltic States, is a reasonable amount to spend on the security of our airspace. A decent HNS-package also shows us as reliable allies and makes the air policing mission even more attractive,” explained the Estonian Minister of Defence.
Reinsalu, Pabriks and Juknevičienė were also given a tour this morning of Ämari Air Base, and at the end of the meeting they signed a joint communiqué.
Before noon, the Ministers of Defence of the Baltic States also met at Ämari Air Base with Zbigniew Włosowicz, the Polish Deputy Minister for Defence Policy, to discuss questions relating to the security of the Baltic Sea region and the future of NATO.
Reinsalu, Pabriks and Juknevičienė also met with General Håkan Syrén, Chairman of the European Union Military Committee, who was visiting Estonia.
The meeting of the Ministers of Defence of the Baltic States takes place twice a year. The next meeting will take place this winter, in Latvia.