The Defense Ministers of the Nordic countries and of the Baltic states met in Norway on May 25 and 26 to discuss the Baltic region’s security. They reviewed progress on the Estonian-Latvian-Lithuanian joint defense projects assisted by the Nordic countries and the United States: Baltbat (tripartite battalion), Baltron (naval squadron), Baltnet (airspace surveillance system), and Baltdefcol (defense college). The ministers also considered plans to create a joint Baltic naval training center and to deploy Baltbat on an international peacekeeping mission. Baltbat’s current options are: either to use its three national elements on rotating duty in Bosnia as part of the Danish contingent, or to replace the Norwegian battalion in Lebanon as a single unit.
The ministers’ communique upheld the countries’ right to choose the means for their security independently; urged the continuity and transparency of NATO’s enlargement process; and underscored that Nordic security assistance to the Baltic states was no substitute for a wider assistance effort from outside the region, since Baltic security is a component of security in Europe. The first of these formulae is directed at Russia, and the latter two at those elements in the West who tacitly resist Baltic accession to the alliance. One of the resisters’ arguments is that Nordic countries–specifically neutral Sweden and nonaligned Finland–are allegedly in a position to uphold the Baltic states’ security outside NATO. The meeting of the defense ministers of the five Nordic countries and of the three Baltic states is turning into an annual event. The ministers had met in Estonia last year. (BNS, May 25 and 26)
UKRAINE ENTERS COMPETITION FOR CASPIAN OIL TRANSIT.