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Submitted by JP on Tue, 06/11/2024 - 18:23
Bucharest Nine, NATO Eastern Flank Members, Hold Summit in Riga

Polish President Andrzej Duda has once again called on NATO allies to increase their defense spending to at least 3% of GDP to tackle Russia’s wartime economy.  “War reminds us that Russia is ready to use all available forces and means, including military ones, to achieve its almost imperial goals", Mr. Duda warned. Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, who attended the Bucharest Nine (B9) Summit in Riga on Tuesday, emphasized the crucial role B9 countries play in strengthening NATO’s deterrence and defence.

A summit of nine countries on NATO's eastern flank, also known as the Bucharest Nine (B9), was hosted today in the Latvian capital of Riga by Latvian President Edgars Rinkēvičs (center) and co-chaired by Polish President Andrzej Duda (right) and Romanian President Klaus Iohannis (left). Photo by PAP/Paweł Supernak

- There is a war going on beyond our borders. Russian aggression against Ukraine continues. Today we all support defending Ukraine. We send military support, provide humanitarian aid and human assistance also to refugees from Ukraine. We are all involved. Above all, we are building the defense potential of our countries. We want the entire NATO, and especially the eastern flank of the alliance, to be safe, the Polish president told journalists in Riga before the meeting began. The Polish President has repeatedly advocated raising the threshold for defense spending among NATO countries to at least 3% of GDP.

During the Summit Polish President Andrzej Duda said, "the Polish border with Belarus is seeing once again the weaponisation of migration, with the use of illegal migration pressure, artificially induced by the Kremlin as part of a hybrid operation" to put pressure on Europe. "We are aware that the same tools are being used right now against other states from our region" he added.

President Andrzej Duda underlined that "the erosion of the European security architecture compels us to increase our efforts in order to ensure NATO’s credible defense and deterrence system on the Eastern Flank". "We have to be aware that security does not come cheap. We can observe that Russia’s economy is already on a war footing. We should also increase our defense spending  – it is a natural step to strengthen our own defense capabilities", he said in Riga.

Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg emphasized that there should be no doubt about NATO’s capability to defend against any adversaries.  “NATO has the forces, resources, capabilities, and the political will to defend every Ally,” Mr Stoltenberg underlined.

Support for the Ukraine

"We all here believe that Ukraine's victory and success is of paramount importance to our security, to European security, and indeed to global security," Latvian President Edgars Rinkevics said in his opening remarks.

"As dramatic regional developments continue to increasingly claim our full attention and coordination, we need to act to bring added value to the alliance as a whole. We need to act towards solidarity, dialogue, and cooperation. They are and should remain the roots of our common strength and resilience," Romanian President Klaus Iohannis said.

The Bucharest Nine (B9), a group of central and eastern European NATO allies, was created by Poland and Romania in the wake of the Russian annexation of Crimea and Donbas in 2014. The objective of the platform is to align national positions on major issues related to the security and defence of NATO's eastern flank in advance of alliance summits. Its members are Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Romania and Slovakia.

In recognition of the strategic role of NATO's newest members, Finland and Sweden, in the security of the region, the President of Finland and the Prime Minister of Sweden are also attending the Summit. - The presence of the Secretary General, as well as two new members of the alliance, is a clear signal that NATO is the basic guarantor of security and that our commitment to defend every inch of the allied territory is unshakable - said President Andrzej Duda during his speech in Riga. Duda underlined that "the open door policy is an important tool for expanding the area of ​​security and stability." The leaders of the Bucharest Nine Summit issued a joint statement at the end of the summit. “We commend the Republic of Moldova for its efforts to maintain stability and advance reforms on its European path. We will continue to further strengthen NATO’s tailored support to Bosnia and Herzegovina, Georgia and the Republic of Moldova, recognising that these partners are most affected by Russia’s malign influence,” the statement reads.

Hungarian President Tamas Sulyok was not attending the Summit in Riga.