Tag: EU

Citizens of seven EU states polled: 58% Europeans support Ukraine’s joining NATO, 48% for Ukraine’s joining EU

Some 58% Europeans support Ukraine’s joining NATO, and only 48% are for Ukraine’s joining the European Union.

This is evidenced by the findings of an opinion poll held by KANTAR PUBLIC and commissioned by Yalta European Strategy (YES).

Citizens of seven EU member states were polled within the survey – Germany, France, Italy, Lithuania, Great Britain, Poland and the Netherlands – based on a sample that was representative for each country (more than 1,000 people per country).

The findings of the public opinion poll were presented today, on the 16th of September, at the plenary session of Yes 14th Annual Meeting “Is This a New World? And What Does It Mean for Ukraine?”

Similar opinion polls, commissioned by YES, had been held in 2005 and 2007. 12 years ago, when the first poll was held, the situation was different: majority was for Ukraine’s becoming an EU member: 55% Europeans polled.

Today, the idea of Ukraine joining the EU is best supported in Lithuania and Poland (68% and 67% respectively), and least supported in the Netherlands (27%). The level of support in France, Germany and the UK is less than half of the people polled.

“Those who are against Ukraine’s joining the EU are explaining it using various reasons. One-third of the people polled believe that at this stage of development, the EU cannot afford a further enlargement. And a comparable number (31%) think that Ukraine’s accession would cause economic issues in the European Union,” the press release says.

Some 40% of those who support Ukraine’s membership believe that Ukraine is part of Europe. And 34% of the accession supporters stress that this step would boost democracy in Ukraine.

With regards to Ukraine’s joining NATO, the situation is different. In almost every country where the survey was held, most people are for accepting Ukraine as a member of the North-Atlantic Alliance.

“Even in France and the Netherlands, there are 49% people supporting this, and in other countries, the level of support is higher. In Lithuania and Poland, this number is 72% and 76% respectively,” the press service says.

The main argument for Ukraine’s integration with NATO, according to the Europeans, is its countering Russia (40% of those who support joining). Also, there are 8% who believe that Ukraine’s joining NATO will boost the ability of Europe to counter the Russian aggression.




The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of The Baltic Post.



Estonian Defence Minister discusses Baltic Security in Stockholm

Estonian Minister of Defense Juri Luik

Estonian Defense Minister Juri Luik acknowledged Sweden’s Baltic defense contribution during his visit to Stockholm.

“The exercise Aurora 17 as well as developments in Sweden’s defense area show that Sweden is clearly sensing a bigger role in assuring the security of the Baltic Sea region,” Luik was quoted by spokespeople as saying.

Luik met with Swedish Defense Minister Peter Hultqvist and commander of the Swedish Armed Forces Gen. Micael Byden on Friday. The defense ministers discussed the security situation in the Baltic Sea region and the Aurora exercise as well as the ongoing Russia-Belarus large-scale exercise Zapad.

Aurora 17 is the first bigger exercise of the Swedish Armed Forces as of the start of 1990s. The exercise will take place on Gotland as well as around Stockholm and Göteborg. A platoon of the Saaremaa district of the Estonian volunteer corps Kaitseliit (Defense League) will take part in the exercise with the diver and support vessel Wambola.

ENS Wambola (A-433) sister-ship – ENS Tasuja (A-432)

The ministers also discussed bilateral cooperation in the area of defense.

Hultqvist gave an overview of the decision made by the Swedish government to increase defense spending in the next three years. The government is to allocate additional funds worth 8.1 billion Swedish kronor (about 850 million euros) to strengthen the country’s Armed Forces. In addition, Sweden will restore conscript service as of the start of 2018.

Luik also met with ambassadors of EU and NATO member states who reside in Sweden to give an overview of the recent meeting of EU defense ministers that took place in Tallinn as well as of the latest developments in European defense cooperation. Luik said that EU defense ministers affirmed readiness for stronger cooperation in the area of defense, adding that it is hoped that the EU permanent structured cooperation mechanism (PESCO) and the European Defence Fund would be launched already at the end of this year.

According to secretary general of Sweden’s Ministry of Defense Jan Salestrand, Sweden supports stronger defense cooperation in Europe, adding that it should not duplicate NATO’s activities.


EU operation Atalanta welcomes Dutch amphibious ship HNLMS Rotterdam

HNLMS Rotterdam

Royal Dutch Navy’s landing platform dock HNLMS Rotterdam joined the EU-led counter piracy operation Atalanta off the coast of Somalia on September 13.

HNLMS Rotterdam set sail from her homeport Den Helder on August 27. In addition to the Dutch crew, a Swedish boarding team and two Swedish fast attack crafts (CB-90) are embarked on the ship.

During her transit to the area of operation, sailors and marines from the Netherlands and Sweden conducted a series of drills to ensure they are prepared to respond to acts of piracy and be ready for the upcoming missions.

It is not the first time that the Netherlands and Sweden are highlighting what can be achieved when EU Member States work together. In 2015, the Swedish Force Commander; Rear Admiral Jonas Haggren embarked his battle staff on board HNLMS Johan de Witt.

With the embarked fast assault craft (CB-90), its Cougar helicopter and its role 2 medical capabilities, HNLMS Rotterdam will provide great presence and support to the EU NAVFOR Force Commander, whose mission is to deter and disrupt pirate activities and to ensure that freedom of navigation is restored.

HNLMS Rotterdam (L800) with FRISC and Cougars.

Captain Harold Liebregs, commanding officer of HNLMS Rotterdam said of the upcoming mission: “We are ready for Atalanta and looking forward to cooperate with EU NAVFOR and other actors in the region to protect shipping near the Horn of Africa from piracy.”


Canada’s decision to lead NATO battle group in Latvia promotes security, cooperation – Vejonis

Canada’s decision to become the lead nation of NATO’s multinational battle group in Latvia has been promoting not only security, but also political and economic cooperation between the two countries, President Raimonds Vejonis said during a meeting with George Furey, Speaker of the Senate of Canada, today.

The Latvian president thanked Canada for its contribution to Latvia’s security as the lead nation by undertaking command of the NATO battle group in Latvia in accordance with the agreement reached at the Alliance’s summit in Warsaw.

“At a time when Russia is staging a major military training exercise at the Baltic states’ borders, we appreciate the enhanced allied presence in the region. The Canada-led NATO battle group has achieved full operational readiness,” President Vejonis said.

The Latvian president also noted increasing cooperation between NATO and the EU in countering hybrid threats and the significance of strategic communication, stressing the NATO mission’s deterrence message and praising Canada’s support to the Riga-based NATO Strategic Communications Center of Excellence (StratCom).

Vejonis also voiced satisfaction about the delivery on the new generation Bombardier CS 300 passenger aircraft to Latvia’s airBaltic national carrier whose upgraded fleet will allow for saving costs and ensure more environment-friendly operations.

The Latvian president also mentioned active political dialogue and economic cooperation between the two countries, noting that Latvia was the first EU member states to ratify the EU-Canada free trade agreement (CETA).

“Trade turnover with Canada has significantly increased in recent years, and CETA will provide new opportunities to entrepreneurs of both countries. We hope to develop closer economic cooperation by diversifying Latvian export of goods and attracting Canadian investment,” President Vejonis said.

Furey and his delegation are in Latvia on an official visit from September 12 to 16.


Estonian, Finnish Defence Ministers speak about Zapad, defense cooperation

TALLINN, Sep 13, BNS – Estonian Minister of Defense Juri Luik and his Finnish counterpart Jussi Niinisto during their meeting in Helsinki on Wednesday discussed defense cooperation and matters related to the Zapad joint large scale military exercise of Russia and Belarus.

Luik and Niinisto talked about the regional security situation in view of the Zapad large scale exercise and bilateral defense cooperation, spokespeople for the Estonian Defense Ministry said.

Also discussed was defense cooperation within the European Union, which has been supported also by Finland.

During an informal meeting of EU defense ministers in Tallinn last week, the EU’s foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini and the Estonian minister of defense both expressed hope that important decisions concerning EU defense cooperation will be reached already by the end of this year.

Finland is positively minded about EU defense cooperation and is waiting for practical solutions.

Luik also visited the Hietaniemi cemetery in Helsinki and laid wreaths to honor fallen soldiers.


Poland’s defence chief to hold talks in Paris Today

Polish Defence Minister Antoni Macierewicz (UAWIRE)


Polish Defence Minister Antoni Macierewicz will travel to Paris today for talks with his French counterpart Florence Parly, against a backdrop of strained relations between the two countries.

The visit followed an invitation from the French defence minister, the Polish ministry said late Tuesday, adding that the two would discuss cooperation and other matters.

French and Polish officials have been trading barbs over President Emmanuel Macron’s proposal to overhaul a controversial EU rule on sending workers abroad.

Poland fiercely opposes any change to the so-called Posted Workers Directive, since it would make it harder for thousands of Poles to work elsewhere in the EU.

Last week, Polish Prime Minister Beata Szydlo accused Macron of “trying to introduce protectionism,” dismissing claims from wealthier European countries that the measure creates unfair competition on labour markets.

Poland is also facing the ire of the European Union over concerns about the country’s planned judicial reforms, which the EU says pose a “systemic threat” to the rule of law.



A NATO versus EU Army? German forces reignite the debate

A German Army Leopard 2A6 Main Battle Tank

BRUSSELS — New efforts to create a group of mini-armies under the command of the unified German armed forces, the Bundeswehr, have reignited the debate over the role of NATO and the European Union.

In a program known as the Framework Nations Concept, the Netherlands, Romania and the Czech Republic have all integrated brigade-level forces with Germany.

In Romania, the 81st Mechanized Brigade will join Germany’s Rapid Response Forces Division while the Czech Republic’s elite 4th Rapid Deployment Brigade will join forces with Germany’s 10th Armored Division.


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Informal meeting of Ministers of Defence of the European Union

Photo: LT Robert Suchy

On Thursday in Tallinn took place an informal meeting of Ministers of Defence of the European Union devoted mainly to issues related to cyber security.

The talks, which also concerned  the assumptions of the common defence policy, security on the eastern and southern flank, were also attended by representatives of the Ministries of Foreign Affairs.

The EU Ministers of Defence meeting which has just ended, politically was focused on Permanent Structure Cooperation (PESCO) – which was the most disputable part of some offensive being pursued by countries centered around France, Germany, partly Italy, but it also has skeptical observers.

Some countries, especially from Central and Eastern Europe are afraid that this initiative will lead to the creation of a two-speed Europe in the defense area. It is visible a great effort Mrs. Federica Mogherini and her associates to remove and neutralize these concerns – said Minister Macierewicz.

– The point is not to make an effort to duplicate our financial obligations within NATO so that, as part of our defence industry’s involvement, financial support will not be direct only to the largest French-German-Italian-Spanish industrial giants, but to guarantee the financing of the small or medium defence industry.

We do care  not only  to promote the southern flank, but also include the eastern flank. This is the position of Poland and it is convergent with the position of all states of Central and Eastern Europe – stressed the Head of MOD.

As noted Minister Macierewicz today’s meeting shows that the process of strengthening the integration has been continued and, unfortunately, exists a phenomenon relayed on mechanism that the greater the threats of disturbance and threats to peace, the more the Central European countries are presenting their common positions in common issues. –“ This is a good sign, because it affects the effectiveness of the action. It also influences on our biggest project – Three Seas Initiative – the most important political project that Poland needs to be continued” added the minister.

The Head of the Ministry of National Defence also referred to the decision game in which all Ministers of Defence took part during the meeting. This was the first decision game that kind and it was based on the scenario involved a cyberattack on a hypothetical EU quarter.

During a visit to Tallinn the Head of MOD met with UN Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations Mr. Jean-Pierre Lacroix.

Discussions focused on increasing the participation of Polish soldiers, mainly officers, in UN missions. As Minister Macierewicz emphasized, the Polish ministry is ready to discuss about the proposals that the United Nations has offered to Poland. Under-Secretary-General was interested in our presence, among others. in Mali, South Africa, areas which are considered to be the places and sources of migration waves threatening Europe.

Minister Macierewicz also met with an Advisor to the President of the European Commission of the EU Defence Industry Mr. Mihnea Ioan Motoc, who indicated that Poland’s presence in the PESCO mechanism is crucial to the European Union. – “We have arranged for further consultations within the next month. I hope that what has been presented during the talks will be confirmed in the official EU position” – said Minister Macierewicz.


Zapad’s goal is ‘to frighten us’- Lithuanian president

Lithuanian President Dalia Grybauskaite

VILNIUS – The goal of Zapad 2017, a large-scale military exercise that Russia and Belarus will hold later this month, is “to frighten us”, Lithuanian President Dalia Grybauskaite, who will be visiting the United States during the drills, said on Friday.

“Let’s not get frightened, because this is what the goal of the Zapad exercise is: to frighten us, to break our will to defend ourselves so that we are paralyzed and can do nothing in our state,” Grybauskaite said at a news conference when asked about her response to criticism from some politicians over the timing of the visit.

“The recommendations of all the relevant structures are that the level of security is unchanged, and (this is) an opportunity to go the United Nations and to address two hundred nations from its rostrum to draw attention to the problems of our region today when the whole world thinks only about conflicts with North Korea,” she said, commenting on the aim of her visit.

According to the president, this will be an opportunity to say that “the aggressor — no matter where it is, whether it is in North Korea or it is our neighbor, must not and cannot do whatever it wants”.

“Aggressive actions against one’s neighbors, wars and seizures of territories have no justification and will always be disgraceful and deplorable. I am going to say this to the whole world,” she said.

Russia and Belarus will hold the joint exercise on Sept. 14 to 20. Moscow says that the war games will involve fewer than 13, 000 troops, but Western officials believe that around 100,000 soldiers may take part.


Estonia: Ratas, Katainen discuss EU defense cooperation

Prime Minister of Estonia, Jüri Ratas

Extension of the European Fund for Strategic Investments (EFSI 2.0) and EU defense cooperation were the main topics discussed at a meeting between Estonian Prime Minister Jüri Ratas and European Commissioner Jyrki Katainen in Tallinn on Thursday.

“The European Fund for Strategic Investments is of great importance to us, and during our presidency, we will work towards adopting the proposal on extending the lifespan of the European Fund for Strategic Investments as soon as possible.

The purpose of the fund is to involve private investments in projects relating, for example, to infrastructure, research, and innovation, and Estonian companies have benefitted greatly from the fund,” the Estonian prime minister said at the meeting with the European Commission vice-president for jobs, growth, investment and competitiveness.

Ratas and Katainen also spoke about issues related to security and European defense cooperation.
“We certainly hope that defense cooperation in the European Union will be closer, and during our presidency, we will contribute to further steps for PESCO and the European Defense Fund,” Ratas said.

“The European Defense Fund helps member states spend more effectively on defense capabilities, and through it, strengthen the security of the citizens of Europe.”

“This morning we conducted the first strategic cyber exercise, EU CYBRID 2017, for defense ministers who have come to Tallinn. I hope the experience gained from the exercise will provide input for discussions on cyber defense,” Ratas added.

Katainen is taking part in the informal meeting of EU defence ministers being held in Tallinn on Thursday and Friday.


French Defense Minister in Tallinn: Zapad is ”strategy of intimidation”

French Defense Minister Florence Parly

French Defense Minister Florence Parly on Thursday condemned a major upcoming Russian military exercise Zapad 2017 on the borders of the EU and NATO as a deliberate “strategy of intimidation”.

The Zapad 2017 exercise which Russia will hold from next week in Belarus and its western exclave of Kaliningrad has caused alarm in the Baltic states and Poland and drawn criticism from the US and NATO for a lack of transparency.

Russia has said the exercises will involve about 12,700 Russian and Belarusian troops and are “purely defensive” in nature — an assessment rejected by many Western observers.

Parly, speaking at a gathering of EU foreign ministers in Tallinn, said it was clear Moscow was pursuing a “deliberate, intentional” strategy of showing off its military might.

“It is particularly important in this context that we reaffirm our presence in the face of this expression and this demonstration the Russians are making which is a strategy of intimidation — we must not hide that fact,” she said.

German Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen said it was clear that Zapad was in fact about showing off Russian force.

“It is undisputed that we see a demonstration of capabilities and power of the Russians. Anyone who doubts that only has to look at the high numbers of the participating forces in the Zapad exercise: more than 100,000,” she said.

To counter growing Russian assertiveness in recent years, particularly since the annexation of Crimea from Ukraine in 2014, NATO has stationed about 4,000 troops in the three Baltic countries and Poland.
Parly said the deployment sent a clear signal that the Baltic states and Poland were covered by the NATO alliance.

AFP – Baltic News Service.