During the Baltic presidents' meeting with U.S. President Barack Obama in Washington on Friday, the Baltic presidents were affirmed that the United States and the Baltic countries were equal partners in strategic cooperation, as the Latvian President's Press Office informed LETA.
As reported, Latvian President Andris Berzins, Lithuanian President Dalia Grybauskaite and Estonian President Toomas Hendrik Ilves arrived in Washington on Obama's invitation on August 30.
During the meeting with Obama and U.S. Vice President Joe Biden, the officials discussed the Baltic countries' security in the North Atlantic Treaty context, the regional cooperation between the Baltic and Nordic countries, as well as sharing the Baltic countries' experience with Eastern Partnership and Central Asia countries and the cooperation with these countries.
There are no senior or junior partners in NATO, and the United States considered Article 5 of the North Atlantic Treaty to be a key obligation to all NATO member states, said the U.S. president.
The United States has a high opinion of Latvia and Baltic countries' involvement in the Afghanistan mission, which clearly shows that the Baltic countries are reliable NATO partners.
Commenting the August 30 talks, Berzins emphasized the atmosphere of mutual understanding and said that it was a meeting of four equal partners and friends.
"It is obvious that today's meeting proves the United States' steady and long-term interest in the Baltic countries and Europe," said Berzins.
Speaking about the increasing importance of cyber security, Berzins said that Latvia was resolved and prepared to develop closer cooperation with the United States in this area, adding that there were professionals in Latvia who could learn from the United States' experience to jointly cooperate in the prevention and investigation of cyber crimes.
Berzins also said that the economic cooperation between the United States and Latvia had major potential. The Latvian president spoke about trade channels that Latvia could offer to its Western partners, adding that the Northern Distribution Network was a good example, with Latvia playing a leading role in the transport of cargo to and from Afghanistan.
The officials also discussed energy security, relations with the Baltic countries' neighbors, transatlantic trade and investment partnership agreement, as well as the situation in Syria.
"The use of chemical weapons against civilians in Syria is a crime against humanity, which must not go unnoticed by the international community, and the perpetrators must be held responsible," stressed Berzins.
During the Baltic presidents' meeting with the U.S. President Barack Obama in Washington on Friday, the United States confirmed its resolve to continue and expand economic and security cooperation with the Baltic countries.
A joint statement by the U.S., Estonian, Latvian and Lithuanian presidents says that, as the four countries prepare for the opportunities and challenges that will arise in the coming years, they recognize that cooperation – with and among the Baltic states, with other regional partners such as the Nordics, and in transatlantic and international forums – will be crucial to their success.
The United States recognizes and reaffirms its commitment to the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (T-TIP) negotiations as a generational opportunity to expand the strong cultural and economic ties between Europe and the United States. T-TIP will not only establish a high-standard, comprehensive agreement that will strengthen the global trading system, but it will also promote competitiveness and growth, adding to the millions of jobs – including Baltic and American jobs – that are already supported by trade and investment across the Atlantic.
Also, as a reliable and diverse supply of energy is a crucial element of economic prosperity, the United States reaffirms its commitment to strengthening energy security in the Baltic region.
"We recognize the importance of implementing the EU's Third Energy Directive and developing the projects included in the Baltic Energy Market Interconnection Plan, in order to diversify sources of energy, develop transparency in energy markets, and provide the basis for sustained economic growth in the entire region. The United States strongly supports the Baltic states in their efforts to develop domestic energy resources and clean energy solutions – including energy efficiency – in pursuit of our shared goals of strengthening energy security, addressing climate change, and promoting nuclear safety and security," says the statement.
Recognizing the benefits and risks of the increasing dependence on information technology and cyberspace, the United States and Baltics will strengthen their engagement on cyber issues regionally and globally. The four countries will continue to cooperate in the investigation and prosecution of cybercrimes and strive to advance their shared vision of Internet freedom by engaging with other countries, international organizations, civil society, and the private sector.
"Our efforts support a common goal: an open, interoperable, secure, and reliable Internet that protects privacy and civil liberties, enables the free flow of information and ideas, and promotes the innovation essential to modern economies," says the statement.
It also emphasizes that the security of the United States and Europe is indivisible. As established in the Baltic Charter, and as NATO allies, the United States has a profound and enduring interest in the independence, sovereignty, territorial integrity, and security of Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania.
"The Baltic States make significant contributions to NATO missions in Afghanistan and elsewhere, and we are committed to maintaining and expanding Alliance capabilities – for collective defense, cooperative security, and crisis management – within Europe and beyond. Recognizing the value of practical cooperation, we will work together to find efficiencies and make the most of limited resources. We will coordinate within NATO to identify and develop high-priority capabilities and training and exercise opportunities, while also pursuing regional joint procurement and other security projects where mutually beneficial," informs the statement.