By Estonian Review (January 12, 2012)
US Ambassador to Latvia Judith Garber has confirmed NATO’s readiness to continue the air policing mission in the Baltic air space after 2014, when the current agreement expires.
In her meeting with the Latvian parliament’s defense, interior affairs, and corruption prevention committee on Tuesday, the ambassador said that the plan will be approved during the NATO summit in Chicago in May.
One of the topics of the Chicago summit will be strengthening of NATO’s capability and “smart defense”, including the air policing mission in the Baltic air space, which will be continued after 2014 although some organizational aspects will need to be revised. Attendees of the Chicago summit will also discuss the transition situation in Afghanistan and its implementation through close co-operation between NATO and the Afghan forces.
NATO fighters based in the Lithuanian air base in Zokniai have been patrolling the Baltic skies since 2004 when the Baltic countries joined the alliance. Different NATO member states have been taking turns performing the air policing mission — so far the air forces of the United States, Belgium, the Czech Republic, Denmark, France, the UK, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Spain, Turkey and Germany have been responsible for the mission.