NATO head tries to convince Baltic states to warm Russia ties

Improved relations between NATO and Russia would benefit the Baltic states, NATO head said.

NATO head tries to convince Baltic states to warm Russia ties


Improved relations between NATO and Russia would benefit the Baltic states, the head of the military alliance on Friday told the former Soviet nations, which are traditionally mistrustful of their large neighbour.

Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia joined NATO five years ago, which, along with entry to the European Union, crowned a drive for firm ties with the West after freeing themselves from 50 years of Soviet rule in 1991.

"I understand very well the concerns of the Baltic countries," NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen told reporters during a visit to Lithuania.

"But I think it would improve the overall security situation in Europe, and also be beneficial to the Baltics, if we could reduce tensions and improve our relations with Russia."

The former Danish prime minister has been touring Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania this week to tell them that the Alliance needed Russia's closer engagement, also because of U.S. invasion in Afghanistan.

"I hope Russia can finally admit that NATO is not a threat," he said in a speech at Vilnius University.

Baltic post-Soviet relations with Russia have ranged from periods of tension to trying to forge as good a working relationship as possible, without overly warm ties.

The Baltic states were strong allies of Georgia during its short war with Russia over South Ossetia in 2008 after which they asked NATO to draw up contingency plans for Baltic defence.

They also want NATO to extend its air policing mission over Baltic skies beyond 2014.

Reuters

Last Mod: 10 Ekim 2009, 11:58
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