Updated: Baltic presidents laud Germany's role

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It was wall-to-wall presidents at Riga castle February 9 with no fewer than four joining forces to discuss matters of regional concern.

Latvia's President Raimonds Vejonis played host to Kersti Kaljulaid of Estonia, Dalia Grybauskaite of Lithuania and German President Joachim Gauck.

With Gauck confirming that the trip to Latvia would be his last s Germany's head of state, the Baltic leaders were fulsome in their praise over his role since taking office in 2012. 

Speaking to reporters after their working lunch, Gauck said that having grown up under the Communist regime in East Germany, he felt particular affinity for the Baltic states and said his visit sent a "conscious political signal" that "Germany stands side by side with our Baltic allies."

"The change in the security situation has illustrated the urgency of this... Our solidarity does not stop at expressions... we also fight together against Russian disinformation campaigns," he said.

"It is important for us to keep the unity of NATO," Vejonis said, in particular with regard to relations with Russia.

All four leaders stressed the need for both NATO and the European Union to act with unity and decisiveness and welcomed the deployment of German troops to Lithuania to bolster defenses on NATO's eastern flank.

Remarkably, also on February 9 the chandelier at the lobby of the Riga Castle fell down, Latvian Radio reported. No one was present at the lobby at the time, and no one was hurt, presidential or otherwise. The incident took place shortly after the visit.

The President's Chancery declined further comment on the incident, including on whether it is related to the recent leak at the castle.

(The story was updated with the final two paragraphs.)

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