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The speakers of NB8 parliaments met in Kaunas, Lithuania, with the President of the Riigikogu Jüri Ratas chairing a discussion under the title “Security and Defence: NB8-NATO Club: New Opportunities for Enhanced Nordic-Baltic Cooperation on Security and Defence”.

Ratas described the current year as extraordinary in our recent history. Russia’s aggression against Ukraine is posing the gravest threat to Euro-Atlantic security.

He emphasised that the response by the democratic world to Russia’s aggression had been quick and decisive. In the field of security and defence this has meant giving military aid to Ukraine, raising the defence expenditures in our countries, and very importantly, in the case of Finland and Sweden, has led to the decision to apply for the NATO membership.

“Finland’s and Sweden’s accession is a game changer for our region and an important contribution to the security of the whole Euro-Atlantic area. This creates new possibilities for regional security and defence cooperation – NB8 co-operation will gain a new strategic dimension,” Ratas declared. “The Riigikogu was among the first to ratify both accession protocols on July 5.”

He added that there were many areas where we could and should intensify our cooperation even further – for example, the integration of our defence plans, participation at each others’ military exercises, joint procurements of defence capabilities, and cooperation in the defence industry.

Ratas warned that Russia would remain the most significant and direct threat to NATO for years to come. This has been clearly stated in NATO’s new strategic concept adopted at the Madrid Summit. The decision that was made there to significantly strengthen the defence and deterrence posture of the Alliance in our region was crucial.

Now we need to focus on its speedy implementation. This would mean increasing Allied presence in our region, prepositioning stocks and equipment, and strengthening military capabilities in land, sea, and air. Also essential was the decision to transform NATO’s Baltic air policing mission to air defence. “Our posture must prevent any possible attempts of aggression,” Ratas stressed.

Speaking of Ukraine, Ratas stated that “We need to further raise the cost of aggression for Russia and avoid its expansion. For this we need to further strengthen sanctions against Russia and increase our military support to Ukraine.”

Ratas expressed his hope that when our countries gather for the next NATO Summit in Vilnius, Lithuania, next year, Finland and Sweden would have been full-fledged members of NATO already for a while.

Other key topics at the meeting of the Speakers of the Nordic and Baltic Parliaments (NB8) in Kaunas were the 31 years long cooperation of the NB8 countries and its perspectives in the new economic, cultural and security situation, as well as economic cooperation in the region.

The Nordic-Baltic cooperation, or NB8, has been bringing together Finland, Sweden, Norway, Iceland, Denmark, Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania since 1992. The first meeting of the NB8 Speakers took place in 1997 in Karlskrona, Sweden.

Photos:Seimas of Lithuania

Riigikogu Press Service
Gunnar Paal
+372 631 6351, +372 5190 2837
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