Ger­man troops to stay in Lithua­nia un­til se­cu­rity sit­u­a­tion changes

The Baltic Times - - BALTIC NEWS - BNS/TBT Staff

Ger­man troops lead­ing NATO'S multi­na­tional bat­tal­ion in Lithua­nia will be present in the coun­try un­til the se­cu­rity sit­u­a­tion im­proves, Ger­man Pres­i­dent Frankwal­ter Stein­meier said in Vil­nius on Au­gust 24.

"The sit­u­a­tion changed with the un­law­ful an­nex­a­tion of Crimea, and Lithua­nia, more than any other coun­try, feels that threat," Stein­meier told re­porters af­ter meet­ing with his Lithua­nian coun­ter­part, Dalia Gry­bauskaite.

"I can­not an­swer ex­actly now for how long the Ger­man sol­diers will be in Lithua­nia. Un­til the sit­u­a­tion ob­jec­tively changes for the bet­ter, we will have to im­ple­ment that de­ci­sion," he added.

NATO this year de­ployed multi­na­tional bat­tal­ions in the three Baltic coun­tries and Poland as a de­ter­rent to Rus­sia fol­low­ing its ac­tions in Ukraine and the Baltic Sea re­gion.

Gry­bauskaite said that even though the bat­tal­ions in­clude troops from 23 NATO Mem­ber States, they only en­sure de­ter­rence, and other mea­sures are nec­es­sary to fur­ther beef up the de­fense of the Baltic coun­tries.

"We will con­tinue to in­vest so that an­other NATO sum­mit is de­voted to fur­ther re­form of NATO, which has to in­vest in a new qual­ity and speed of its de­ci­sion-mak­ing, to re­view NATO ca­pa­bil­i­ties' de­ploy­ment map, with a stronger fo­cus on NATO'S east­ern flank, and on air de­fense in par­tic­u­lar," she said.

The Lithua­nian pres­i­dent noted that "Ger­many man­aged to over­come rather com­plex feel­ings" when it made the de­ci­sion to lead the bat­tal­ion in Lithua­nia.

Ger­mans are cautious about send­ing their mil­i­tary per­son­nel to East­ern Europe fol­low­ing the Nazi atroc­i­ties of the 20th cen­tury.

Mil­i­tary co­op­er­a­tion be­tween Lithua­nia and Ger­many has in­ten­si­fied in re­cent years. Lithua­nia is buy­ing a con­sid­er­able amount of weapons and mil­i­tary equip­ment, including fight­ing ve­hi­cles and how­itzers, from Ger­many.

Ce­sana Grupp AS on Mon­day be­gan the con­struc­tion of a 6,000 square me­ter home and gar­den mall in the Ro­he­line Park agri­cul­ture and gar­den­ing park in the south­ern city of Tartu that will be op­er­ated by Gardest OU.

"The Es­to­nian builder is Mapri Ehi­tus in col­lab­o­ra­tion with the Dutch com­pany Ter­moflor. The struc­ture will be built by the Dutch com­pany, while the Es­to­nian com­pany will per­form the prepara­tory and out­door works, as well as a part of in­te­rior fin­ish­ing af­ter the struc­ture is com­pleted," Ce­sana Grupp board mem­ber Raul Jeets said.

He said the build­ing is ex­pected to be com­pleted in April 2018 and the ex­act cost of the project will be known then.

The build­ing will have an en­closed area of 6,000 square me­ters and the out­door area will be as big as that. Al­to­gether the cen­ter will take up about 25,000 square me­ters including roads and park­ing ar­eas and will em­ploy ap­prox­i­mately 40 peo­ple, Jeets said in mid-au­gust.

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