Estonia to pull out of Baltic mine countermeasures squadron

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Photo: Priit Simson / Scanpix

The government on Thursday gave the nod to Estonia's withdrawal from the Baltic mine countermeasures unit BALTRON.

The government approved denunciation of the 1998 agreement with Latvia and Lithuania under which the unit was established, spokespeople for the government said.

Estonia wants to continue respective cooperation with its Baltic neighbors within the Standing NATO Mine Countermeasures Group 1 (SNMCMG1).

The main goal of creating BALTRON was to increase the Baltic navies' capacity for interoperability with NATO at a time when Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania were taking part in NATO's Partnership for Peace program, the explanatory note accompanying the bill of denunciation said.

According to the covering letter BALTRON was a successful project, but taking into account the Estonian defense forces' participation in SNMCMG1 and the need to prioritize resources, continued participation in Baltron on the same scale as before is not possible.  

The agreement will stop applying to Estonia six months after Estonia has informed Latvia and Lithuania of its denunciation.

The governments of the Baltic states concluded the BALTRON founding agreement on April 16, 1998 and it entered into force on June 26, 1999.