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Deployment of Croatian troops in Baltic not directed against Russia: FM

Xinhua, April 21, 2017 Adjust font size:

The planned deployment of Croatian troops with NATO in the Baltic is not directed against Russia, but rather a sign of solidarity with NATO allies, Croatian foreign minister Davor Ivo Stier said on Friday.

Stier made the comments at a joint press conference with visiting Lithuanian foreign minister Linas Linkevicius, as a response to Russia's warning that it regarded the NATO troop buildup in the east as an act of provocation.

Referring to bilateral relations with Russia, Stier said Croatia behaved as a member of the European Union (EU) and NATO, but would be open to dialogue, particularly on the issues regarding the situation in southeastern Europe and in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatian News Agency HINA reported.

Stier is scheduled to visit Moscow later this month.

Linkevicius said the NATO troop buildup in the Baltic was not just a gesture, but a minimum in order to protect the countries in the region and to send a message that people's security there would be guaranteed by NATO.

Lithuania hopes to strengthen relations with Russia, but on the basis of international law and non-interference in internal affairs, he said.

NATO plans to deploy about a thousand troops each in Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia and Poland this year.

Up to 300 Croatian soldiers will be included in the plan, according to a Croatian government proposal which has been submitted to parliament for approval. If passed, the Croatian soldiers will be deployed in Poland by the end of 2017, and in Lithuania in early 2018. Endit