Federal Chancellor Olaf Scholz travelled to Tallinn on Friday to meet the heads of government of the three Baltic States. At a press conference with Prime Ministers Kaja Kallas of Estonia, Ingrida Šimonytė of Lithuania, and Krišjānis Kariņš of Latvia, Scholz said that his participation in the B3 Summit was his first visit to Estonia in his role as Federal Chancellor.
NATO demonstrates its presence
Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania maintain a close and trusting cooperative partnership with Germany in the European Union and NATO. "We are military allies, European partners and good friends, who support each other in times of need," Federal Chancellor Scholz pointed out.
He went on to say that the security situation in the Baltic States that form the eastern flank of NATO continued to be precarious. "This is why Germany and other allies decided last year to deploy military units in order to improve the security situation in the region."
"Defend every square inch"
The Federal Chancellor clarified that NATO is a defensive alliance that is not directed against anyone, and that NATO’s mission is for its members to pledge mutual assistance in the event of a military invasion. "Let me be clear about this once again: we are willing to defend every square inch of NATO territory against attacks".
Scholz continued by explaining that the Federal Armed Forces were being geared towards defending Central and North-Eastern Europe: "Strengthening the defence capabilities of our allies will increase the level of security for the entire alliance and therefore for all of Europe. This is what is at stake here."
Germany is pulling its weight
The Federal Chancellor outlined a few aspects of Germany’s activities to improve security in the Baltic States:
- the Eurofighter aircraft of the German Air Force have been involved in monitoring Estonia's airspace for several years.
- 700 German soldiers are providing support to their local comrades in Lithuania, where the Federal Armed Forces have taken on a leadership role within the NATO context. In addition, a German combat brigade has been delegated for defending the country. A part of this brigade will be returning to Lithuania over the next few weeks for another military exercise.
- The German Navy has increased its presence with ships in the Baltic Sea.
- In addition, close to 17,000 Soldiers are ready to provide assistance at short notice as part of the allies’ NATO Response Force.
"All of this goes to show that NATO and the European Union reacted to the Russian invasion of Ukraine and to the ongoing aggression from Moscow in a quick, determined and well-coordinated manner," Federal Chancellor Scholz said.
Unwavering solidarity with Ukraine
Scholz pointed out that the Russian President had misjudged the situation: "He set out to divide Europe but ended up increasing our unity. He set out to weaken NATO but quite the opposite was the case."
Scholz acknowledged the Ukrainians’ great courage they have been showing for the past more than 15 months in defending their country against Russian aggression. Humanitarian, political and financial support as well as the provision of weapons would continue, he added, to enable Ukraine to keep up the fight. "Our solidarity is unwavering," said the Federal Chancellor.
Intensifying pressure on Russia
Scholz announced that the pressure on Russia through sanctions would be intensified further and steps would be taken to prevent that such sanctions are bypassed. “We stressed this most recently at the G7 Summit in Japan, and it is also what we will be doing in the European Union.”
The Federal Chancellor pointed out that together with its friends in the Baltic region, the entire European Union and further international partners, Germany continued to stand side by side with Ukraine. "We will provide support for as long as needed. Russia must realise that this war is pointless and withdraw its troops. This is the only way to achieve peace."