Joint NATO-EU visit highlights solidarity and cooperation through visit to Baltic region
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg is visiting Lithuania and Latvia on Sunday (28 November 2021) together with the President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen, to demonstrate solidarity with NATO Allies and EU member states in the Baltic region, and to further strengthen the cooperation between NATO and the EU.
In Lithuania, the Secretary General had discussions with President Gitanas Nausėda and Prime Minister Ingrida Šimonytė about developments on Lithuania's border and Russia's military build-up near Ukraine. The Secretary General said that, while the Lukashenko regime is exploiting vulnerable people to put pressure on neighbouring countries, "no NATO Ally stands alone." He said that all Allies have expressed solidarity with Lithuania and have provided practical help, including through a recently deployed NATO team of experts to Lithuania to share information, analysis, and experience in countering hybrid threats.
Mr Stoltenberg explained that cooperation between NATO and the European Union is essential to counter this hybrid campaign. "This crisis affects both NATO and the European Union," he said, adding that "Lithuania is a member of both organisations, so it is important for President von der Leyen and me to be here together today. " He recalled that "NATO and the EU work together on a range of security issues, including countering hybrid threats", stressing that "today, we discussed how we could step up our joint work, including though a new joint NATO-EU declaration, because we are stronger and safer when we work together."
On Russia's military build-up near Ukraine, Mr Stoltenberg called on Russia to be transparent, reduce tensions, and de-escalate: "NATO stands ready to defend all Allies, and we will continue to provide our partner Ukraine with political and practical support."
In Latvia, Secretary General Stoltenberg and President von der Leyen had talks with Prime Minister Krišjānis Kariņš. “NATO is strongly committed to Latvia’s security. Including through the presence of our multinational battlegroup in Ādaži, where ten Allies serve alongside Latvian forces, to deter aggression and preserve peace,” he said.
On Monday, Mr Stoltenberg will visit the NATO battlegroup in Adaži, led by Canada, one of the four NATO multinational battlegroups deployed in the Baltic region and Poland.
The agenda of the joint visit of the Secretary General and the President of the European Commission also includes briefings on current hybrid challenges by the directors of the NATO strategic communications centre of excellence in Riga, the European centre of excellence for countering hybrid threats in Helsinki, and the NATO cooperative cyber defence centre of excellence in Tallinn.
NATO Foreign Ministers will meet in Riga on Tuesday and Wednesday to consult on a wide range of pressing security challenges in the region and beyond.