Special working groups comprised of officers from the U.S., Britain, Nordic countries, and the Baltic states conferred on December 8-9 in Tallinn on projects aimed at boosting the defense posture of Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania.
One working group, chaired by Norway, discussed technological options for Baltnet, a planned joint Baltic air space surveillance system, stemming from a U.S. initiative. Baltnet is to be based in Lithuania. Another group, chaired by Denmark, reviewed progress toward creation of Baltron, a joint Baltic naval squadron. It also discussed a new and related initiative designated as Baltsea. Baltron is to be based in Estonia. A third group, led by Sweden, finalized details of the plan to create the joint Baltic Defense College, due to open in 1999 in Tartu, Estonia. Baltdefcol will train staff officers from battalion to brigade level, using Western instructors and English as the language of instruction. (BNS, December 9)
Latvia is the main host of Baltbat, the joint Baltic Battalion, which yesterday began a major field exercise in neighboring Estonia, with the participation of officers from NATO and Nordic countries. As a political backdrop to the military planning, the U.S. and the three Baltic states last week completed drafting work on the partnership charter, which is due to be signed at a Washington summit next month. The charter envisages, inter alia, U.S. security assistance to the Baltic states with a view to enabling them to meet NATO standards in the future. More firmly and specifically, Zbigniew Brzezinski in a December 7 address in Warsaw called for the inclusion of the Baltic states in the next stage of NATO’s enlargement. He pointed out that the Baltic states form an integral part of a regional community also comprised of Germany, Poland, and the Scandinavian countries, and can not be treated any differently than those countries from the security standpoint. (BNS, December 8)
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