Ināra Mūrniece, Speaker of the Saeima, met with Paul Ryan, Speaker of the United States House of Representatives, in Washington, where she expressed appreciation for the US military presence in Europe and underlined the importance of a strong NATO alliance. Speaker Mūrniece, together with the Nordic and Baltic (NB8) speakers of parliament, is on a visit to the US from 26 to 29 June.
Speaker Paul Ryan reassured the Baltic and Nordic speakers about the US steadfast and unwavering commitment to the NATO commitments, as attested by the Congress resolution adopted on the previous day in adherence to the NATO Article 5.
Speaker Mūrniece applauded the deployment of NATO troops in the Baltic region, which is an important deterrence measure. She also expressed concerns about Russia’s military activities near the Baltic borders, including the large-scale military exercise “Zapad-2017”. Speaker Ryan expressed his understanding about the concerns and confirmed continued US military presence in Europe, which is to be supported by the Congress and increase in the US defence budget.
The NB8 speakers also met with Nancy Pelosi, the Democrats’ Minority Leader of the US House of Representatives, and emphasized the importance of transatlantic ties and the leading role of the USA in Europe and the Nordic-Baltic region. Pelosi confirmed that at the Congress both the Republicans and Democrats strongly support adherence to the NATO commitments.
Speaker Mūrniece also met with Senator Robert Menendez, underlining the importance of continued joint efforts of the US and the Baltic and Nordic countries in countering the Kremlin’s aggression. She highlighted the need to reinforce cooperation in preventing hybrid threats, covering such areas as cyber security, information space and strategic communication.
During the meeting with the leadership of the US National Security Council, the NB8 speakers underlined the importance of consistent support to Ukraine on the part of the USA and Europe. The NB8 speakers expressed steadfast support for continuing sanctions against Russia.
In her address to the participants of the NB8 speakers’ seminar “Challenges in the Northern Europe”, Speaker Mūrniece emphasised the following: “The United States and the Baltic and Nordic countries are close partners. We share the same values. We all contribute to strengthening the transatlantic ties. Today, when we are facing common challenges, it is more important than ever to stand together. For when we stand together, we stand much stronger.”
At the US Department of State, the NB8 speakers met with John A. Heffern, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary, and Benjamin Ziff, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for the Bureau of European and Eurasian Affairs; at the US Department of Commerce, they met with Israel Hernandez, Assistant Secretary of Commerce. Along with representatives of Johns Hopkins University, the NB8 Speakers also took part in a discussion on common security and economic challenges, hosted by the U.S. Congress.
Saeima Press Service