Baltic Defence College Joint Graduation Ceremony on 20 June 2024


On 20 June 2024, the Baltic Defence College (BALTDEFCOL) celebrated the end of the Academic Year 2023/2024 with the Joint Graduation Ceremony of Higher Command Studies Course (HCSC), Joint Command and General Staff Course (JCGSC) and Civil Servants' Course (CSC).

This year, twenty-four students of the Higher Command Studies Course (HCSC), seventy-one students of the Joint Command and General Staff Course (JCGSC), and four students of the Civil Servants' Course (CSC) graduated from BALTDEFCOL. Altogether, ninety-nine students from nineteen nations received their diplomas.

The ceremonial event was honoured by the attendance of H.E. Alar Karis, President of the Republic of Estonia, Mr Žilvinas Tomkus, Vice-Minister of Ministry of National Defence of the Republic of Lithuania, General Martin Herem, Chief of Defence of the Republic of Estonia, Colonel Māris Utināns, Commandant at National Defense Academy of Latvia, as well as Ambassadors, Defence Attachés, heads of partner professional military education institutions and other high-level officials.

The graduation ceremony began with a speech from H.E. Alar Karis, President of the Republic of Estonia. He acknowledged BALTDEFCOL's 25th anniversary and consistent excellence in professional military education, highlighting its role as a premier military education institution. 

H.E. Alar Karis remarked,

"For 25 years, the College has stood steadfast here in Tartu, the academic capital of Estonia. In these 25 years, the Baltic Defence College has established itself as a small but sharp spearhead promoting regional security."

He also discussed the importance of collaboration: 

"All nations—big or small—have something to learn from each other. Cooperation and alliances are what we in the free world do best. Cooperation is what makes us strong. Our biggest victories come through cooperation. They come when we open our minds to the threats and concerns of others."

Brigadier General Alvydas Šiuparis, the Commandant of BALTDEFCOL, addressed the guests and congratulated the students on passing this important milestone. During his speech, he acknowledged the BALTDEFCOL faculty's and students' collaborative efforts in attaining high educational standards. 

He stated:

"Quality of education is and will remain our highest priority—all related processes will continue to meet expectations and ambitions to provide a modern, up-to-date, and relevant education."

Brigadier General Šiuparis also emphasised that the most significant benefit for students is learning from one another.

"As BALTDEFCOL unites various nationalities, diverse perspectives, and unique approaches, it is important to maintain these friendships and remain united across borders. Today, ninety-nine BALTDEFCOL students have become part of the BALTDEFCOL alumni family."

The Commandant's speech was followed by the speech delivered by Mr Žilvinas Tomkus, who said: 

"This is a special day not only for graduates, not only for BALTDEFCOL, but also for our national defence systems. Use the wisdom and creativity you gained at the BALTDEFCOL to strengthen your national defence systems."

Colonel Māris Utināns, Rector at the National Defense Academy of Latvia, was among the invited guests. 

In his speech, he said:

"Reflect on your knowledge and bring your experience to your professions and work and to your societies."


Individual students were also recognised for their outstanding academic performance during the ceremony.

HCSC Awards

Class Leader Recognition—Lieutenant Colonel Liutauras Bagočiūnas
Commandant's Award—Colonel Vladimir Vdoviak
The Best Writing Award—Ms Laura Gūtmane

JCGSC and CSC Awards

(JCGSC) Commandant's Award—Major Felix Kesserwan
(CSC) Commandant's Award—Mr Egidijus Papečkys
Academic Writing Award—Major Andres Ojalt
Joint Operations Award—Major Laurynas Sinica
Class Leader Recognition—Major Felix Kesserwan
Academic Advisor Recognition—Lieutenant Commander Kevin Teulade
Best Classmate Award—Major Aurimas Kleveckas   


Traditionally, students presented the Best Faculty Member Award to deserving faculty members.

Best Faculty Member Award

(HCSC) Best Faculty Member—Mr George Spencer Terry
(JCGSC) Best Faculty Member— Lieutenant Colonel Rimas Čepononis


The graduation ceremony program was followed by awarding Mr Žilvinas Tomkus with the Baltic Defence College Medal of Merit Silver for his contribution and support to the BALTDEFCOL and for elevating the image and recognition of the BALTDEFCOL among international students.

Colonel Dietmar Hartung, BALTDEFCOL Deputy Commandant/Chief of Staff, was awarded with the Lithuanian National Defence System Medal of Merit for his special merits in strengthening cooperation between Lithuania and the Baltic states and personal contribution to increasing the efficiency and prestige of the BALTDEFCOL in the international environment.

General Martin Herem awarded Colonel Dietmar Hartung a valuable gift and thanked him for his three-year tenure as a Deputy Commandant/Chief of Staff at BALTDEFCOL. Colonel Dietmar Hartung retires this year after serving 45 years in the German Air Force, and this was his last assembly. 

The BALTDEFCOL management and staff wish all our graduates success, congratulate them on their academic achievements, and fair winds to our departing personnel!

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