22:15 GMT +318 October 2019
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    Flags fly at half mast at NATO headquarters in Brussels, March 23, 2016.

    NATO Cites Aggression Fears While Opening Office in Slovakia

    © REUTERS / Francois Lenoir
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    The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) inaugurated its eighth European Force Integration Unit headquarters in Slovakia to facilitate military reinforcements against aggression targeting Eastern Europe, NATO Assistant Secretary General for Public Diplomacy Tacan Ildem said during the opening ceremony on Tuesday.

    WASHINGTON (Sputnik) — Ildem explained the center will be staffed by 21 Slovakian personnel combined with 20 people from Bulgaria, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland and Romania.

    "The message is clear: NATO is here in Slovakia," Ildem stated. "We are committed to defend your country and your people against any threat or act of aggression."

    "These personnel will play a vital role in military planning, exercises, and in facilitating reinforcements, if needed," Ildem noted in his speech.

    Other force integration offices have been opened in Bulgaria, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland and Romania.

    Under former President Barack Obama, the United States planned to quadruple military spending in Europe to $3.4 billion in 2017 to increase the number of deployed troops, stockpile military hardware and arms as well as create a rapid reaction force.

    However, current President Donald Trump’s past criticism of NATO has added an element of uncertainty to those plans, which were implemented to assuage concerns of US allies in Eastern Europe over Russia.

    Russia has characterized NATO's moves as being against previous agreements and representing a threat to stability in Europe.

    Meanwhile, NATO also opened a regional cooperation center in Kuwait on Tuesday to strengthen its relationship with Arab nations in the Persian Gulf region.

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