The Military Cooperation among the Baltic States
There are various factors that promote military cooperation among the Baltic States. First, the geographical factor – Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania are situated in the Baltic region. The second factor is the similar history in the 20th century – the gaining of independence in the beginning of the 20th century, the occupation by the Soviet Union and the restoration of independence in the end of the century. The third factor is political orientation towards the Western countries - involvement in collective defence organization the NATO and economical union the EU. The forth factor is economical – limited financial recourses. Therefore, the Baltic States were forced to cooperate in order to be able to implement bigger military projects and to take part in the NATO and EU.
On basis of the character of the sphere, military cooperation among the Baltic States can be divided into two periods. The first period lasts from the restoration of independence till joining the NATO and EU (from 1991 till spring of 2004). In this period the military cooperation among the Baltic States progressed. Four significant projects in all forms of armed forces were launched: BALTBAT, BALTRON, BALTNET and BALTDEFCOL. Unfortunately, towards the end of the period the cooperation in the land forces regressed because the project BALTBAT was eliminated. It was characteristic to this period that the military cooperation among the Baltic States was promoted by the Western countries. They showed directions how to develop cooperation, led projects and offered financial and material support.
The second period started with joining the NATO and EU until this day (spring of 2004 – 2010). In comparison with the first period, one can surely state that stagnation is characteristic to the second period of the military cooperation among the Baltic States. The three main projects BALTRON, BALTNET and BALTDEFCOL continue, however, no real new project have been launched in the land forces. In addition, one cannot state that there is any closer military cooperation. Of course there are some changes during last 2 – 3 year. Some form of cooperation has started in spheres never used before e.g. among military psychologists and media. It should be added that in this period the Western countries play a significantly less role, because the Baltic States lead and finance projects themselves.
Unfortunately, the military cooperation is hindered by various factors. First is short-sightedness of the Baltic politicians, indifference to past mistakes and experience. Joining the NATO has created a false impression that the Baltic States are completely safe. Only international political incidents – for example, Russian –Georgian military conflict – made the Baltic States re-evaluate the need for additional safety guarantees. Strong military cooperation among all three Baltic States would only increase safety in the region. Second is the closer mutual cooperation of Lithuania and Estonia with military stronger neighbouring countries (Poland and Finland). …
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