“Baltic cooperation is just as relevant now as it was 20 years ago,” said Solvita Āboltiņa, Speaker of the Saeima in her address to the Baltic Assembly (BA) in Tallinn on Friday, 25 November. This year marks the 20th anniversary of founding the Baltic parliamentary cooperation body.
“We may criticise and wish for better cooperation, but we have to admit that the main goals have been achieved. For 20 years the Baltic Assembly has managed to preserve its essence whilst changing with the times,” Solvita Āboltiņa emphasised in her address to the participants of the 30th Session of the Baltic Assembly. “It still remains the only institutional framework for Baltic inter-parliamentary cooperation. It is an organisation that continues to strengthen the close ties among the Baltic States, to keep alive the concept of our unity and to sustain Baltic identity, as is clearly demonstrated in awarding the Baltic Assembly Prizes in literature, the arts and science.”
Looking back at the time of founding the Baltic Assembly, the Speaker underlined that the regional inter-parliamentary cooperation body was established when the fate of the three Baltic States depended on their ability to voice unified opinions. “In 1991, when the Baltic Assembly was born, we had to prove to the world that we always have been and always will be a part of the European and transatlantic family of countries”, said Āboltiņa.
“It was a difficult task, and our success was far from certain. The determination of our people had already been proved when we stood shoulder to shoulder and hand in hand in the Baltic Way, as well as on the Barricades in the frosty days of January 1991. They were our people who managed to keep the desire for freedom alive and to withstand all the obstacles even when outnumbered by a opposition forces,” she said.
“When we look back at our achievements over the last two decades, we have to admit that Fortune favoured the Baltic States. Never before have we had 20 years of uninterrupted freedom, peace, democracy, the rule of law and equal opportunities,” the Speaker emphasised.
Solvita Āboltiņa also highlighted the role of even closer cooperation between the Baltic States and Nordic countries as a part of the future development of the BA. „n 21 August in Riga we celebrated the 20th anniversary of the renewal of the statehood of Estonia and Latvia. We shared the celebration not only with our Baltic colleagues; the speakers of the parliaments of the Nordic countries joined us in our celebration. That was not merely a symbolic gesture. It showed a political commitment to further expand collaboration between the Baltic Assembly and the Nordic countries in the following years,” said the Speaker.
The Baltic Assembly is an inter-parliamentary cooperation organisation of Latvia, Estonia and Lithuania established on 8 November 1991. The Baltic Assembly consists of national delegations – 12 to 20 members from each country’s parliament. The Baltic Assembly is a coordinating and consultative organisation. It has the right to express its opinion in the form of resolutions, decisions, declarations and recommendations to the national parliaments and governments of the Baltic States and to the Baltic Council of Ministers. It also has the right to request information from these entities on how cross-border issues, which are a priority on the Baltic Assembly’s agenda, are being dealt with.
Saeima Press Service