People’s Daily On Line
Beijing, China
March 22, 2006

Defense ministers from Baltic countries of Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Germany and Denmark met here on Tuesday and pledged to strengthen military cooperation.

Latvian Defense Minister Linda Murniece told a press conference after the meeting that the ministers discussed further involvement in the actions of the Poland-based multinational legion of North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) countries.

They agreed to support the legion’s decision to participate in the NATO-led reinforcement troops of the International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan in 2007.

Regarding the security and defense policies of the European Union (EU), the ministers agreed that an EU combat group, which should work in coordination with NATO’s rapid reaction force, is an important component of the EU’s defense policies, Murniece said.

The combat group would include soldiers from Germany, Poland, Slovakia, Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia and serve a six-month mission as an EU rapid reaction force in 2010, according to Baltic news agency BNS.

The combat group plan was proposed last year by France, Britain and Germany for the purpose of providing more effective military force for the EU to conduct rapid intervention and carry out peacekeeping and humanitarian assistance missions under the UN mandate before some international conflicts go out of control.

The ministers also initially agreed to provide assistance to the UN peacekeeping force in the Democratic Republic of Congo, said Murniece, adding the action plan would be drafted out soon.

The ministers also discussed cooperation with Belarus, Russia, Ukraine and countries in the Caucasian region, Murniece said.