By The Baltic Times
Feb 01, 2013

VILNIUS – President Dalia Grybauskaite and NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen discussed the overall implementation of NATO’s plans to defend the Baltic States, the presidential press service reports.

According to the President, the results of the last three years of Lithuania’s membership in NATO are significant – the Alliance endorsed the contingency plans for the Baltic States, agreed to grant a permanent status to the NATO air policing mission in the Baltics, and the Lithuania-based Energy Security Center became NATO’s Center of Excellence.

“Having achieved the confirmation of the collective defense commitments at the NATO Summit in Chicago, this year we will verify the implementation of the contingency plans in practice. It is crucial for Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia, based on their painful historical experience, to have a concrete scenario of how the Alliance members would protect our countries and people in the event of a threat,” the President said.

Dalia Grybauskaite and Anders Fogh Rasmussen discussed preparations for regional military exercises Steadfast Jazz 2013 where collective defense scenarios will be tested for the first time. In autumn, the Baltic States and Poland will host the NATO’s Response Force exercises. It is important for Lithuania that such military exercises are conducted on regular basis.

Last year NATO leaders also agreed on a permanent status of the NATO’s Baltic Air Policing mission. Earlier, the agreement among NATO Allies on the presence of air policing mission in Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia had to be negotiated every few years.

The Lithuania-based Energy Security Center became NATO’s Center of Excellence last November. Estonia, Latvia, France, Italy, the USA, Turkey have already committed to contribute to the activities of this center which is one of the eighteen functioning NATO Centers of Excellence.

Security and defense issues will also feature as an important item on the agenda of Lithuania’s Presidency of the Council of the European Union. In September Lithuania will host the meeting of EU defense ministers, while in December EU leaders will meet in Brussels to discuss security and defense issues for the first time since 2005.