Friday

30th Oct 2020

Merkel sets limits to Nato solidarity with Baltic states

  • Merkel laid a wreath at Latvia's Freedom Monument (Photo: bundeskanzlerin.de)

German chancellor Angela Merkel has said Nato will defend Baltic states if need be, but will not build permanent military bases in the region.

She spoke on Monday (18 August) on a visit to Riga in which she also laid a wreath at the Freedom Monument, a memorial to the Latvian War of Independence against Russia in 1918.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Become an expert on Europe

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

"I want to stress that ... Article V of the Nato contract - the duty to provide mutual support - is not something which just exists on paper, but is also something which must be filled with life”, she told press after meeting Latvian prime minister Laimdota Straujuma.

She noted that German jets will start Nato air policing operations in Latvia on 20 August and that Nato is to build up a rapid reaction force to be used if Russia tries to destabilise its Baltic neighbours on the Ukraine model.

"I absolutely understand the concerns of the populations in Latvia, but also in the other Baltic states, and Poland, too”, she said.

She ruled out building permanent Nato bases in the region because, she noted, this would violate a 1997 Russia-Nato accord on troop deployments in Europe, however.

"We won't have a permanent stationing of combat troops but we will boost our participation in other ways ... we will do what it takes to guarantee that, should Latvia come into difficulties, Nato will be able to help straight away".

For her part, Straujuma said Russia’s attack on Ukraine has "fundamentally changed the security environment in Europe … trust has been lost”.

She noted that she is “pleased that Ms. Merkel has affirmed that the words [Nato’s Article V] are not just words on paper" and that the German leader “promised” to help Latvian dairy producers struck by Russia’s import ban on EU food.

Merkel’s remarks on Article V and the rapid reaction force echoed statements by Nato’s military chief, Philip Breedlove, on Sunday.

Meanwhile, Pavlo Klimkin, Ukraine’s foreign minister, said on Monday that Merkel plans to visit Ukraine on 23 August in what he described as a "very interesting" trip.

The Ukraine conflict and the EU-Russia confrontation show little sign of abatement despite German diplomatic efforts.

Ukraine’s president, Petro Poroshenko, told press also on Monday that Russia has in the past few days sent 1,200 trained militants to east Ukraine.

Its parliament speaker, Oleksandr Turchynov, said on a visit to Lithuania that Ukraine plans to join the EU in the next five years and to join Nato - a red line for Moscow - later on.

"I believe Ukraine has to not only be an EU member but also a Nato member. It would be a strong guarantee against Russia's future intentions”, he told the BNS news agency.

"If, earlier, people [in Ukraine] were divided in their opinions [on Nato membership], Russia's actions have changed it, including in the country's eastern regions”.

With the EU on Monday pledging an extra €125 million for producers hit by the Russian food embargo, the German central bank noted the EU-Russia chill is holding back Europe’s economic recovery.

“Geopolitical tensions in eastern Europe owing to the Ukraine conflict as well as in other parts of the world are now appearing to weigh more heavily on corporate sentiment”, it said in a regular report.

“It is striking that the downward trend in exports to Russia already started at the beginning of 2013, with the value of these exports falling by nearly one fifth by May 2014. Quite clearly, the conditions necessary for prosperous trade with Russia began worsening some time before the Ukraine crisis".

EUobserved

Belarus: Where's the EU when you need it?

It has been 81 days since the first police cosh hit the first skull in Belarus and president Alexander Lukashenko has still not paid any EU price.

News in Brief

  1. Polish government rows back on abortion ruling
  2. EU threatens legal action against Poland on rule of law
  3. 'Several dead' after earthquake hits Greece and Turkey
  4. Hungary faces EU court over asylum restrictions
  5. Polish PM urges end to abortion protests to 'protect elderly'
  6. EU to fund cross-border hospital transfers
  7. Some 140 migrants drown on way to Spanish islands
  8. EU central bank preparing new rescue measures

Column

A 'geopolitical' EU Commission. Great idea - but when?

Safeguarding Europe's position starts with recognising the unpleasant reality that Europe's power is waning. Behind the facade of European cooperation, national self-interest still predominates and that has never been any different.

Rightwing MEPs bend to Saudi will after Khashoggi death

Saudi dissident and journalist Jamal Khashoggi was killed two years ago on 2 October. Since then, mainly centre-right, conservative and far-right MEPs have voted down any moves to restrict, limit or ban the sales of weapons to the Saudi regime.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. UNESDAMaking healthier diets the easy choice
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersUN Secretary General to meet with Nordic Council on COVID-19
  3. UNESDAWell-designed Deposit Return Schemes can help reach Single-Use Plastics Directive targets
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Council meets Belarusian opposition leader Svetlana Tichanovskaja
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Region to invest DKK 250 million in green digitalised business sector
  6. UNESDAReducing packaging waste – a huge opportunity for circularity

Latest News

  1. Nice attack: EU urges world leaders to stop hate speech
  2. Europe is back in (partial) lockdown
  3. Gender equality still 60 years away, warns study
  4. I'm an 'election observer' - but what do we actually do?
  5. Deal in reach on linking EU funds to rule of law
  6. EU Commission's Covid-19 expert offers bleak outlook
  7. Belgium's collaboration with Sudan's secret service: my story
  8. What do ordinary Belarusians want from the EU?

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us