On Friday, November 6, Prime Minister of Lithuania Andrius Kubilius, Prime Minister of Estonia Andrus Ansip and Prime Minister of Latvia Valdis Dombrovskis met within the framework of the Baltic Council of Ministers. The Prime Ministers discussed the key issues of trilateral cooperation and coordination of actions in response to the economic and financial crisis. The Prime Ministers discussed the upcoming Climate Conference in Copenhagen in December, the EU strategy for the Baltic Sea region, as well as other cooperation issues.
With regard to economic and financial crisis, the Prime Ministers agreed to continue pursuing the adoption of the Euro in the shortest possible time, which will contribute to sustainability of future economic development of Lithuania, Estonia and Latvia. The Prime Ministers agreed that the fulfilment of the Maastricht criteria, the stability of national currencies and further implementation of structural reforms are of fundamental importance in reaching this goal.
The Prime Ministers of the Baltic countries discussed the cooperation on energy issues, the development of the issues set in the Joint Declaration signed in April, the interconnection plan of the Baltic energy market, its significance and development, as well as the project of the Visaginas Nuclear Power Plant.
The Prime Ministers also touched upon evaluation of the crimes committed by totalitarian regimes at the EU level. In this context, the Prime Ministers emphasized the necessity to continue work on evaluation of totalitarian crimes at the EU level, by including this issue into the new Stockholm multi-annual program in the area of freedom, security and justice and establishing the common Platform of European Memory and Conscience.
With regard to the climate change policy, Latvia informed that it is interested in reaching a global and comprehensive agreement on the climate change policy after the 2012 during the Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen. Already now, the member states of the European Union have reached an agreement on reduction of the emission volume by 20% by the year 2020. Latvia supports the position of the European Commission that the European Union could reduce the emission volume by 30% on the condition that also other developed countries and the developing countries will take similar measures for emission reduction. Latvia acknowledges that the agreement that will be reached at the Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen will be important for making a foreseeable and duly response to climate changes.
Latvia expressed its opinion, that, on the whole, it supports equal participation in assisting the developing countries, because Latvia and other countries should act coherently with regard to climate change issue. However, Latvia does not support reaching of the agreement at any price, and calls upon the states to recognize the various options and specific situation of different states that has developed as the result of economic crisis.
With regard to security and defence, the Prime Ministers of the three Baltic countries agreed that the cooperation of the Baltic States is successful and can serve as an example for other countries. The Prime Ministers noted that the economic crisis has affected the defence budget, but in future years the defence budget will increase again. One of the present objectives is reducing of administrative costs, at the same time increasing defence capabilities and military capacity.
Latvia pointed out that it continues its participation in the military operations in Afghanistan together with its partners. The negotiations are going on with Lithuania on a joint participation of Latvia and Lithuania in operations in Afghanistan in 2011.
Latvia called upon Estonia to joint the initiative of Latvia and Lithuania.
With regard to cooperation within NATO, the development of a new NATO strategy concept was mentioned, as well as the expert group that is preparing the recommendations for the new concept. Aivis Ronis, a former ambassador of Latvia to the USA and a former permanent representative to NATO is a candidate of Latvia nominated by the Baltic states among 12 experts approved by A.F.Rasmussen, NATO Secretary General.
The Prime Ministers of the Baltic countries also discussed the next year’s plans in the area of defence and security, including the planned military exercises that will be attended by the representatives of the Baltic States, the United States and other NATO member states.
At the press conference, the Prime Ministers emphasized that the cooperation, information exchange and coordination in the decision-making process is of crucial importance in overcoming the crisis.
At the press conference, the question was raised on the adoption of the budget of Latvia. Prime Minister Valdis Dombrovskis informed that the budget has been adopted at the Saeima in the first reading and currently the work is going on preparation of the budget for the second reading. V.Dombrovskis informed that an agreement on the budget will be reached also with international partners, that will be acceptable for both sides and that Latvia will continue the program with the international lenders.
It should be pointed out that on January 1, 2010, Latvia will assume the presidency over the Baltic Council of Ministers and the Baltic Assembly. Already at the end of November, in the meeting of the Baltic Council of Ministers in Vilnius, the Minister for Foreign Affairs will present the priorities of Latvia’s presidency. The Council will continue the work in five sectoral committees - Defence, Energy, Interior Affairs, Transport and Environment Committee.
The economic stability, growth and increase in competitiveness of the economy of the Baltic region will be set as the main priorities of Latvia.
The issue on cooperation opportunities of the Baltic Council of Ministers will be raised- by performing joint analysis of the issues, coordinating and implementing the cooperation in the area of economy and finance and cooperation for implementation of the EU strategy for the Baltic Sea region.
The second priority - security, both, the cooperation among the Baltic states within NATO and on energy security and environment security issues.
The third priority – strategic cooperation among the Baltic countries and Nordic countries, enhancing the cooperation in solving the global and regional issues. Also the international cooperation, for instance, the cooperation with G20 countries, the International Monetary Fund etc is important.
The first informal meeting of the Prime Ministers of the Baltic countries within the framework of the Baltic Council of Ministers is scheduled for January 2010 with the objective to reach an agreement on the areas and issues that require close cooperation and coordination.
Annex – The Conclusions by the Chairman of the Prime Minister’s Council of the Baltic Council of Ministers.
Photos of the meeting are available in the photo album of the State Chancellery: http://www.flickr.com/photos/valstskanceleja/sets/72157622620892791/
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