NATO eastern flank members holding summit in Latvian capital Riga

NATO eastern flank members holding summit in Latvian capital Riga

Bucharest 9 summit focusing on NATO's upcoming WAshington summit, Ukraine, outreach to Asia-Pacific partners, to end with no joint declaration

By Talha Ozturk

BELGRADE, Serbia (AA) — A summit of nine countries on NATO's eastern flank, also known as the Bucharest Nine (B9), kicked off on Tuesday in the Latvian capital Riga.

The Riga Summit is one of several events marking NATO's 75th anniversary and the 20th anniversary of Latvia's NATO membership.

The leaders of Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Lithuania, Poland, Romania, and Slovakia are also attending the B9 summit, which is the first that Latvia is hosting.

Latvian President Edgars Rinkevics said in his opening remarks that the event would focus on preparations for NATO's upcoming Washington Summit 2024, as well as support for Ukraine and how to strengthen the global outreach of the alliance with Asia-Pacific partners.

"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," said Rinkevics.

For his part, Romanian President Klaus Iohannis said regional developments required that allies "bring added value" to NATO.

"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," said Klaus.

Polish President Andrzej Duda also spoke, pointing out the need for the common voice of member countries to be heard ahead of the upcoming Washington summit.

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg called that B9 a platform to address security challenges and address how to further strengthen the eastern flank of the alliance.

"We will address how to further bolster our deterrence and defense in all of the alliance in the B9 framework," said Stoltenberg.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, who is in Berlin to take part in a conference on reconstruction in Ukraine, will also deliver a video address to B9 leaders.

The two sessions of the summit will be held behind closed doors. They will take place in the ceremonial hall of Riga Castle, on the banks of the Daugava River, which is the official residence of the president of Latvia.

However, the summit will not end with a joint declaration of the nine countries, as is customary, since Hungarian President Tamas Sulyok is not attending.

Instead, a statement will be issued in the name of the presidents of Latvia, Romania and Poland, who are jointly hostinf the Riga gathering.

Hungary is being represented by the country's ambassador to Latvia.

NATO chief Stoltenberg, who will be at the Riga summit, is due to visit Budapest on Wednesday.

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban told state media earlier that Stoltenberg will visit Budapest "to discuss Hungary's staying out from NATO's Ukraine mission."

Founded in 2015 in Bucharest, Romania, at the initiative of Romanian President Klaus Iohannis and Polish President Andrzej Duda during a bilateral meeting after the annexation of Crimea from Ukraine and its posterior intervention in eastern Ukraine both 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.

All members of the B9 were either part of the former Soviet Union (USSR) or members of the defunct Soviet-led Warsaw Pact.

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