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JBANC Statement on Importance of the Baltics in NATO - July 21, 2016

The Joint Baltic American National Committee, Inc. (JBANC) is very concerned with recent misguided statements related to the United States' commitment to upholding NATO treaty agreements. As a non-partisan organization, JBANC believes in and advocates for robust transatlantic relations between the United States and the Baltic countries of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania. Our organization stands firm in its belief that NATO and America's commitment to its NATO allies are fundamental to ensuring U.S. and European security, and urges both the current Administration and that elected in November to continue to support all NATO allies, including the Baltic countries, and reaffirm commitment to the Treaty's Article V. Continued dangerous rhetoric on either side of the Atlantic could harm some of America’s best friends, partners, and allies in NATO. 

The Baltic countries are undeniably strong in their commitments to NATO and fully understand what is at stake. Although challenged in fully rebuilding their militaries over the past 25 years, they have worked to fulfill their NATO commitments. Estonia spends over 2% of GDP of pledged defensive expenditures, and while currently just under 2%, Latvia and Lithuania have been increasing their military budgets more rapidly than any of the other NATO members over the past few years, and will be reaching that threshold soon. There has been rock-solid commitment and engagement by the Baltic countries in supporting NATO and U.S.-led actions in Iraq, the Balkans, and in Afghanistan, after invoking the Article V commitment to help defend the United States after 9/11. 

The Alliance is facing more and more unconventional threats. It is imperative for allies to share their collective knowledge in key security areas – whether cyber, strategic communications, or in the energy security sphere. Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania make substantial contributions in all of these areas. 

JBANC condemns any indication that the United States might reconsider its Treaty obligation to defend a NATO member, especially on economic grounds. During these increasingly turbulent times, we need strong solidarity among all of our NATO allies. Transatlantic ties must be solid; the United States cannot allow any weakening of resolve or commitment to our allies. The ironclad long-lasting leadership of the United States in NATO is critically important. Baltic-Americans particularly understand the importance of effective U.S. leadership in supporting these alliances. We take great pride in the cooperation and strong relationships forged between the United States and the Baltic countries and support all actions to continue them. 

JBANC represents the Estonian American National Council, Inc., the American Latvian Association, Inc., and the Lithuanian American Council.