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VILNIUS, February 3 (Itar-Tass) — NATO defence ministers approved prolongation of the alliance’s mission to patrol the Baltic states’ skies, Lithuanian Defence Minister Rasa Jukneviciene said after the meeting in Brussels on Friday.
“At the level of defence ministers a long-term decision was made,” she was quoted by the press service of the Baltic state’s defence ministry as saying.
The minister expressed an opinion that a political agreement should be adopted at the NATO summit in Chicago in May.
“The Baltic states should increase their contribution to the mission. It is important to make it affordable for our partners,” Jukneviciene said.
She noted that since 2004 the mission has been carried out by Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia from the Lithuanian airbase of Zokniai. Brussels described the mission as an example of reasonable defence, when NATO member-states fulfill the air policing mission instead of injecting heavy funds into the creation of their own air forces by the Baltic states (that have no necessary fighter jets for this – Itar-Tass).
The alliance prepared a plan of action for its Baltic air policing mission until 2014.
Since 2009 Vilnius, Riga and Tallinn have been on a parity basis covering expenses for accommodation of NATO’s Air Force servicemen in Lithuania and since 2010 paying for military personnel and equipment transportation expenditures.