US Senators: NATO’s role in Baltics is more important than ever before
United States of America will continue providing military support to Baltic States by ensuring troop rotation and financial support. US Congress retains strong cooperation with Baltics, as confirmed by US Senators during their meeting with Saeima speaker Inara Murniece.
On Wednesday, 28 December, US Republican Party senators John McCain, Lindsey Graham and Democratic Party’s senator Amy Klobuchar arrived in Latvia to meet with Saeima representatives and leading state officials to discuss important public matters and determine the future of US support in Baltics.
Latvian Foreign Affairs Minister Edgars Rinkevics also met with senators. During the discussion, both sides emphasized the importance of strategic partnership between Latvia and USA and expressed support to the current regional security policy and planned steps for the enhancement of cooperation between the EU and NATO.
Representatives of the US Senate welcomed Latvia’s commitment to increase its defence budget and the country’s contribution to the enhancement of international security and the allied operation in Afghanistan. Both sides emphasized that it is necessary to continue cooperation and search for new solutions for the region’s security situation and Euro-Atlantic space.
Saeima speaker Inara Murniece thanked USA for its consequent support for Latvia – both on the road towards restoration of independence and efforts to overcome many different security challenges, including the ones coming from Kremlin and its hybrid war threats. Saeima’s delegation and US senators expressed unanimous support in favour of cooperation to combat those threats. Senators mentioned that Latvia has already made steps to oppose cyber threats by creating Cert.lv cyber security centre.
Murniece emphasized that the visit of US senators took place in a time when the necessity to cooperate and exchange opinions increases. Latvian President Raimonds Vejonis reminded that NATO summit in Warsaw resulted in important decisions in regards to the presence of allied forces in Baltics and Poland. The American delegation affirmed their readiness to continue active exchange of opinions, as BNN was informed by the press-service of the State President’s Chancellery.
Saeima’s representatives emphasized Latvia’s accomplishments in strengthening its defensive capabilities, including the commitment to increase defence budget to 2% of GDP in 2018. Senators said the role NATO plays in the region is more important than ever before.
«The visit of US senators to Latvia offers a great opportunity for the American side to view Latvia’s commitment to its duties as NATO member state and its own security. On behalf of Latvia, I emphasize our country’s commitment to secure all duties in relation to the presence of allied forces in the country,» – Vejonis said.
Vejonis also affirmed that Latvia intends to form close cooperation with the new US State Administration and Congress. He also reminded that the presence of American troops in Baltics is immensely important in a symbolic and practical sense: «USA is and remains our strategic partner for security, defence and NATO cooperation.»
Defence Minister Raimonds Bergmanis and National Armed Forces Commander Raimonds Graube met with US senators and expressed confidence that Latvia proved itself as a strong NATO member state and a strategic partner to USA in the approval of the 2017 budget.
The minister and US senators agreed on the matter of growing threats and military activity coming from Russia.
Senator McCain voiced confident support to Latvia on behalf of USA as a strategic partner to further enhance Latvia’s defensive capabilities.