The Baltic States Should be Grateful to the Late Chancellor Helmut Kohl for NATO

A couple of fragments relating to transatlantic cooperation when coronavirus is heavily blustering around the world.
During the meeting of Ministers of Foreign Affairs of NATO held on 2 April, which was held in the video conf…

A couple of fragments relating to transatlantic cooperation when coronavirus is heavily blustering around the world.
During the meeting of Ministers of Foreign Affairs of NATO held on 2 April, which was held in the video conference format for the first time in the history of the Alliance, they exchanged their views about the response to COVID-19, Russia, weapon control, relations with partners and other topics. Generalization was made that in the situation of the pandemic, obligations of the Alliance will not change – NATO continues to implement operations of collective defence, deterrent mechanisms, crisis management functions and continue operations of securing stability and training. Thus, the frontline of the Alliance in the Baltic States and Poland continues its activities.
It seems that emphasis on continuity of solidarity should be considered as a thematic and emotional motive in the video conference of the last meeting of heads of foreign authorities of the member states of NATO. Linas Linkevičius, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Lithuania, who took part in this meeting, assured that Lithuania will undoubtedly continue participation and fulfilment of obligations and at the same time he expressed his gratitude to the team of military doctors from Croatia and Germany, which came to Lithuania with special equipment.     
What is the reason of one more manifestation of the Euro-atlantic solidarity?  On one hand, we have to believe in information broadcasted by the news agencies, stating that in this way a decision passed in London in December during the meeting of leaders of member states of NATO to officially start the process of the Alliance reflection, extend political consultations and coordination among NATO members and enhance a political role of the Alliance, has been implemented.  
Another reason maybe not is necessarily directly (forthright) relating, however somehow relating to the eastern Baltic States. Here a slight, however semantically and symbolically significant recourse could be made to the realities of the last century, which in the context of the present matters reveal in a new sense.
In the issue of the Berlin daily Die Welt of April 4 it informed about publicized recordings of the phone calls of 1993-1996 of then Chancellor Helmut Kohl and U.S. President Bill Clinton. Significant part of topics of their conversation was relating to expansion of NATO to the east. It seems that this topic was important to the Chancellor H. Kohl, who has been written in the history as the architect of united Germany and even was painful in a psychological point of view. He was convinced that the Middle and Eastern Europe would remain unstable without defence of NATO and this instability at the eastern boarder as a heavy historical heritage and additional burden would fall on German people.
In the opinion of the Chancellor H. Kohl, expansion of NATO could be reached under the ruling of the President of Russia Boris Yeltsin, but not of his successor. After his visit to Moscow the Chancellor of Germany was particularly concerned about it. In conversations with the President of U.S. be used to emphatically remind of deteriorating B. Yeltsin‘s health and almost in a maniacal manner demanded the result of the expansion of the Alliance. Even when B. Clinton tried to calm down the talk partner, as if his father-in-law also had a surgery, H. Kohl was uncompromising. „We are losing time‘, his standard and steady argument was.  
Finally, expansion of NATO was carried out in time: firstly, in 1999, thus prior to Vladimir Putin‘s coming to power in Russia Czehia, Poland and Hungary joined the Alliance. In 2004 expansion was continued and another 7 states of the Middle and East Europe, including Baltic States, joined. Let‘s say before the leader of Russia has not found his feet in usurpation of the absolute power with a non-imperial component, which is flourishing at the time being on a big scale.    
Thus, the Chancellor of Germany was thinking almost as an oracle at the last decade of the last century and it does not matter much what his motives were then. Talking figuratively, the Baltic States thanks to the actual context then, were able to catch the last train.
We can go back to realities and remind, like Jens Stoltenberg, Secretary General of the Alliance, decided to mention by making a summary of the video conference of the Ministers of Foreign Affairs of NATO that NATO maintains operative capability, continues patrolling the airspace and military marine operations in the Baltic States, too. We can just make fantasies (to tell the truth, very easily) how our airspace would look like if we were not under the ‚umbrella‘of NATO security at the time being.
J. Stoltenberg also noted that the Alliance was tracking military forces of Russia close to the borders with member states of NATO and mentioned recent military training in the western part of Russia, which reminded that the Alliance should stay vigilant in protection of Europe. On 25 March the Ministry of Defence of Russia organized a non-announced inspection of the military forces and training in seven ranges of the middle and west military districts as if designated for improvement of readiness for the case of massive infection of COVID-19 and neutralization of the infection spreading.   
Actually, military air forces and missiles of strategic use were for some reason involved for a theoretically exalted aims alongside radiation, chemical, biological defence and engineering structures.    
In addition to what was said here, enviable activity of disinformation and propaganda of Moscow matches here very well under the circumstances of crisis. We have written about this several times in our articles. I will not repeat them now, but will remind a statement of Jacek Czaputowicz, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Poland on 3 April when he said that the threat of disinformation about coronavirus spread by Russia worried NATO.
Poland probably experiences it worst. The last fake news initiated by the Kremlin was that as if Warsaw did not let Russian aircraft carrying the aid for COVID-19 to suffering Italy to cross its airspace. The Minister of Poland reminded that during the video conference with his colleagues he emphasized the necessity of NATO allies to closely collaborate against disinformation of Moscow. Surely, in this context a suggestion of the Minister L.Linkevičius is very significant, suggesting to use the experience of Lithuania fighting with false news through the platform ‚Debunk‘.
Making assessment of the latest lessons of history we have to keep supporting Sakartvelo and Ukraine that are seeking Euro-atlantic integration. The Baltic States and Lithuania in particular is doing it very actively. Figuratively we can call this a symbolic heritage of the late Chancellor H. Kohl‘s vision of stability. 
Ministers of Foreign Affairs of NATO states at the beginning of April publicized new initiatives to both countries – Sakartvelo can take part in projects, in which Ukraine is already taking part, let‘s say programmes such as Regional Airspace Security Programme and the platform NATO-Ukraine Platform on Countering Hybrid Warfare. 
And finally, as a summary of the excursion to the history, having in mind the current realities, according to J. Stoltenberg, 81 percent of people in NATO member states support Euro-Atlantic cooperation in the security area based on the results of the latest research conducted at the beginning of April. In case referendums regarding membership in the Alliance were held, 62 percent of the interviewed people told that they would say yes for being in NATO and only 9 percent indicated that they would vote against the membership. Thus, whoever said something about the West and promise the end…   
 
Arūnas Spraunius

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