On Thursday, 12 January, Ināra Mūrniece, Speaker of the Saeima, met with Saulius Skvernelis, the newly appointed Prime Minister of Lithuania, for whom Latvia is the first foreign visit in his office. Speaker Mūrniece emphasised that Latvia and Lithuania have always been close partners, but mutual support and coordinated action is even more important now in light of unprecedented geopolitical challenges.
Speaker Mūrniece underlined the historically close relationship and intensive bilateral cooperation between the two countries, which includes parliamentary exchanges, as illustrated by the recent visit of Viktoras Pranckietis, Speaker of the Lithuanian Parliament. Lithuania is Latvia’s largest trade partner and incoming tourism market. Likewise, both countries have established close cultural ties, highlighted by the well-established tradition of jointly celebrating the annual Baltic Unity Day.
Mūrniece and Skvernelis discussed the Baltic cooperation, and agreed that the pragmatic and goal-oriented approach has yielded positive results; they especially pointed out the successful cooperation in the area of security and defence.
Regarding strengthening of security in the region, Speaker Mūrniece underlined the importance of the decision of the NATO Warsaw Summit to enhance the presence of the allied forces in the Baltics and Poland. Both countries have committed to reach the 2% of GDP defence spending threshold in 2018. Speaker Mūrniece expressed appreciation for the cooperation with Canada as the framework country of the NATO battle group in Latvia. She also highlighted the importance of the presence of the USA in the Baltics even after the deployment of the NATO battle groups. The parliament of Latvia is committed to work very closely with the US Congress to strengthen the transatlantic ties.
Speaker Mūrniece and Prime Minister Skvernelis also discussed the progress achieved in implementing the Rail Baltica project, emphasising the importance of all partner countries working on the Intergovernmental Agreement, which is instrumental for the completion of the project within the planned timeframe and for attracting the EU financing in full amount.
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Saeima Press Service