September 11, 2001 : Attack on America
Statement by Richard Boucher, Spokesman; March 13, 2002

Office of the Spokesman
March 13, 2002

Statement by Richard Boucher, Spokesman

Meeting of Baltic Partnership Commission

Defense Ministers Girts Valdis Kristovskis, Linas Linkevicius, and Sven Mikser, of Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia, respectively, met with Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage March 13 to discuss their governments' preparations to advance their NATO candidacies.

Deputy Secretary Armitage reiterated U.S. commitment to the vision described by President Bush in Warsaw last June of a new round of enlargement at the 2002 Prague NATO summit. He reaffirmed that NATO will extend invitations to those aspirant countries that have demonstrated their ability to contribute to Euro-Atlantic security and to strengthen the Alliance. Current NATO members, he said, will make that evaluation later this year. He reaffirmed that no country would be excluded because of geography and no third country would have a veto over membership decisions. He commended the Baltic states for their efforts to fulfill their Membership Action Plans and their commitment to devote 2% of their GDP to defense spending.

The Deputy Secretary expressed appreciation for Baltic states support in the counter-terrorist campaign. The Baltic defense ministers reported on their plans to contribute troops to an international contingent led by Denmark scheduled to deploy to Kyrgyzstan next month as part of Operation Enduring Freedom. This is a logical follow-on from previous Baltic contributions to peacekeeping operations, such as the Lithuanian offer to contribute personnel to a Czech military hospital for Operation Enduring Freedom, and the participation of the Baltic Peacekeeping Battalion (BALTBAT) in Bosnia.

The Deputy Secretary congratulated the Baltic nations on their progress and assured them of our support as they continue their efforts.

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