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José Manuel Albares concludes his visit to Finland, Lithuania and Croatia to prepare for the NATO Summit in Madrid

During his visit to the Lithuanian base in Siauliai, Spanish F-18s performed an emergency take-off to identify an unknown aircraft

April 28, 2022

​José Manuel Albares, the Minister for Foreign Affairs, European Union and Cooperation, has concluded a 48-hour tour of Finland, Lithuania and Croatia in preparation for the NATO Summit to be held in Madrid on 29 and 30 June. José Manuel Albares held meetings with his counterparts in these three countries: Pekka Haavisto and Tytti Tuppurainen, Gabrielius Landsbergis and Gordan Grlic Radman, respectively. He also met in Lithuania with President Gitanas Nauseda, and the Speaker of Parliament, Viktorija Čmilytė-Nielsen.

With all of these counterparts, he addressed the importance of the NATO Summit in Madrid on 29 and 30 June, a fundamental meeting to strengthen trans-Atlantic ties at a key time for the unity of the allies to maintain a firm response to the Russian aggression against Ukraine. The Madrid Summit must a approve NATO’s new Strategic Concept, which will include the Southern Flank among its security priorities, together with its Eastern Flank, cybersecurity and other threats.

While in Lithuania, the Minister for Foreign Affairs also visited Siauliai Air Base, where some 130 Spanish servicemen form part of NATO’s Baltic Air Policing mission. An unexpected situation occurred while he was at this air base. Minutes after visiting the installations and addressing the troops, two Spanish fighter planes deployed at the air base had to be quickly mobilised for take-off, known as Alfa Scramble. 

The Alfa Scramble alert, which means that planes and their pilots need to be ready to take off in a maximum period of 15 minutes, took place to identify an unknown plane. Minister Albares, accompanied by the senior officials of the Spanish detachment, witnessed the operation from the ground.

During the visit to Siauliai Air Base, the minister discussed the aims of the Baltic Air Policing mission, which Spain currently heads up – the fourth consecutive year our country has taken part in the mission. On this occasion, the air patrol mission in the Baltic is marked by the war in Ukraine.

The minister addressed the Spanish servicemen taking part in the mission, highlighting the “fundamental role they play in the defence of our democracy” and stressing that they are more necessary now than ever, “because the times we live in demand that we support out values and our democracy with actions”.

By clicking on this link, you can download the state​ments made by Minister Albares and see pictures of his visit to the base in SiauliaiIt opens in new window