Merkel defends NATO presence in East Europe

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Berlin, July 7 (IANS) German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Thursday defended the planned North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) presence in eastern Europe in her official statement on the forthcoming NATO summit in Warsaw.

It is not enough to be able to relocate troops in crisis situations quickly, she said at Bundestag, the lower house of the German parliament, adding NATO should have rather stronger presence in the Baltic states of Estonia, Lithuania and Latvia as well as Poland, Xinhua news agency reported.

Merkel stressed the importance of the rapid reaction force of NATO for the Baltic States.

Merkel also appealed for a continuation of talks between NATO and Russia.

“We agree that enduring security in Europe can only be reached with Russia, not against Russia,” Merkel said.

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NATO will decide at their summit in Warsaw on Friday and Saturday the deployment of one battalion with about 1,000 soldiers each in the three Baltic states and Poland. German Bundeswehr, the national defence force, will lead the battalion in Lithuania with several hundred soldiers.

NATO has been strengthening its military presence in East Europe, especially in Poland and the Baltic states following Russia’s annexation of Crimea and the military exercises on the Ukrainian border.



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