Baltic, Polish foreign ministers discuss border tensions

Riga, Sep 13 (EFE).- Tensions along the borders of the three Baltic countries and Poland remain high as Russia and Belarus conduct “non-transparent” military exercises.

The drills come at a time when Belarus is maintaining pressure on Lithuania, Poland and Latvia by bringing migrants to their borders, the foreign ministers of Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia and Poland told journalists in Riga Monday.

Latvian Foreign Minister Edgars Rinkevics hinted that if the situation along Latvia’s border with Belarus worsens, it could be grounds for calling for so-called Article 4 consultations with Nato.

He referred to “certain developments that we cannot disclose yet” as possible future grounds for such consultations, which have only been called six times in NATO history.

Polish Foreign Minister Zbigniew Rau told Monday’s press conference that Belarus isn’t giving up its pressure tactics against its neighbors and Poland is ready “to face more migratory pressure.”

“The migrants are still there in Belarus, they are legally in Belarus and Belarus is their host country,” Rau said.

By not disclosing the number of troops participating in the drills, the timing of the operations nor allowing international observers, Russia was failing to adhere to its so-called confidence building measures with Nato, the Polish foreign minister said.

Latvia’s Rinkevics also called on the European Union to take on a greater role in pressuring Belarus to end its use of migrants as a tool of what he called hybrid warfare. He also said that the EU should financially support strengthening the Latvian and Lithuanian borders with Belarus, something which Brussels is not doing at present.

Latvia has started to hastily erect concertina barbed wire barriers along parts of its border with Belarus, just as a Latvian television investigative broadcast claimed that fortifying the border with Russia and Belarus had been neglected, delayed and marked by excessive costs and possible corruption.

Estonian Foreign Minister Eva-Maria Liimets said all four foreign ministers, also joined earlier Monday by the four countries’ defense ministers, had discussed plans to renew Nato’s strategic concept next year.

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