Latvia is ready for a close cooperation as Estonia will become the presiding country both in the Council of the European Union (EU) and in the Baltic region next year. This was stressed by Ināra Mūrniece, Speaker of the Saeima, on Friday, 16 December, when meeting in the Saeima with Sven Mikser, the new Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Estonia.
Estonia will take over the EU presidency in the second half of next year, which will be a challenging time, admitted Speaker Mūrniece. The participants of the meeting agreed that the EU must keep the promises made to Ukraine as the EU's credibility is at stake. The EU member states should maintain a joint position in pursuing current policy in relations with Russia. Economic sanctions imposed on Russia should not be reviewed until substantial progress is made in implementation of the Minsk agreements. It is essential to continue supporting the Eastern Partnership – that is also necessary from a safety point of view.
In 2017, Estonia will also preside over the Baltic Assembly and the Baltic Council after taking over this responsibility from Latvia. The Speaker of the Saeima welcomed Estonia’s commitment to continue the work started by Latvia, by prioritising safety and security. Mikser underlined the importance that Latvian, Estonian and Lithuanian cooperation should attach to energy security, which includes setting up a single Baltic gas market.
Ināra Mūrniece emphasised Latvia’s interest in the successful implementation of the Rail Baltica project. The three countries should continue preparatory work in accordance with the interstate agreement in order to build the new railway line within the set term. The successful implementation of the project requires close coordination at both political and practical level.
When discussing security issues, Speaker noted that Latvia fulfils its commitment to increase defence spending and is now actively preparing for stationing soldiers from the allied nations in its territory. The multinational composition of the troops to be deployed in the Baltic States attests to the understanding of the current situation throughout the Alliance. She stressed that the transatlantic link is vital for security.
Lolita Čigāne, Chairperson of the European Affairs Committee, and Jānis Vucāns, President of the Baltic Assembly, also participated in the conversation with Sven Mikser.
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Saeima Press Service