A meeting of the Baltic Council of Ministers took place in Riga, where Lithuanian Prime Minister Saulius Skvernelis, Latvian Prime Minister Arturs Krišjānis Kariņš and Estonian Ambassador to Latvia Arti Hilpus met to discuss further prospects for cooperation. Estonian Prime Minister Jüri Ratas was unable to attend the meeting due to weather conditions, which prevented him from coming to Riga.
Prime Minister Skvernelis has said that he appreciates the active dialogue between the Baltic States. Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia are more than neighbours, so the format of the Baltic Council of Ministers provides a valuable and important opportunity to discuss the most relevant issues.
The trilateral meeting agenda included such items as Brexit, the Digital Single Market, the multiannual financial perspective, the transatlantic relations, relations with Russia and support for Ukraine and the European Union’s Eastern Partnership. Among other items were: regional transport and infrastructure projects and the fight against hybrid threats and election security.
The Head of Government has taken the opportunity to once again welcome the agreement reached last year on the Baltic electricity grid synchronisation with the European continental networks.
‘It is an important step forward in bringing back the Baltic countries to the Western family, so I have no doubts whatsoever about its irreversibility thanks to our efforts and united approach’, said Saulius Skvernelis.
Security issues remain a priority for the Baltic States. It was agreed that maintaining the strong relationship with the US would remain a key priority by strengtheing cooperation in all areas without exception – from military acquisitions to energy or business relations.
The counterparts have expressed the continued support for Ukraine. They also noted the commitment of the Baltic states to allocate 2 per cent of GDP for defence. It was recalled that the main political parties in Lithuania agreed to increase the funding to 2.5 per cent of GDP by 2030. It was agreed that all the three countries would seek full convergence in all areas in the context of the new EU Multiannual Financial Framework.
In terms of transport projects, Rail Baltica remains a priority. The overall goal of all the states is to link the Baltic capitals with Warsaw in the West and Helsinki in the North, and the hopes are that it will be achieved with the support of the European Union.
This year, the Baltic Council of Ministers is chaired by Latvia.