“It is important to start thinking about the means of overcoming the crisis caused by the pandemic. Economic recovery will require dedicated efforts, including those of the entire Baltic region,” said Ināra Mūrniece, Speaker of the Saeima, on Friday, 6 November, in her remote opening address to participants of the digital 39th session of the Baltic Assembly (BA).
The Speaker of the Saeima highlighted the need to use the available European Union (EU) funding wisely by investing in forward-looking regional projects. “We, the parliamentarians, have to follow closely the implementation of large-scale regional infrastructure projects that strengthen the energy security and transport network connectivity of the Baltic states,” said Mūrniece, emphasising that the synchronisation of the Baltic States’ electricity grid with the continental Europe’s energy systems must be completed without delay by 2025, as the project affects not only the economic growth, but also the security of the Baltic states. The Speaker of the Saeima also stressed the need to follow the implementation of the Rail Baltica project.
“This is a year of great challenges. The spread of the COVID-19 virus has increased in our region, as well as elsewhere in Europe and worldwide, and public health and safety are our top priorities,” said the Speaker of the Saeima and thanked medical professionals and all those working in the health sector of the Baltic states for their selfless work. “At this time of crisis, it is evident that close collaboration between the health sector experts of Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia is crucial to our united efforts of protecting public health,” said Mūrniece.
While discussing foreign affairs, the Speaker of the Saeima highlighted the regular dialogue between the Baltic States and their strategic partner, the United States. Mūrniece noted that, following the recent U.S. presidential election, parliamentarians of the Baltic States must strive to establish regular and purposeful contacts in the U.S. Congress in order to maintain strong support to the security and strengthening of the military infrastructure of the Baltic region.
Regarding the situation in Belarus, Mūrniece pointed out that the Baltic States were among the first EU Member States to implement coordinated national restrictive measures against Belarusian officials responsible for the violence against peaceful protesters and tampering with election results. “We continue to coordinate our positions concerning Belarus, including at the European Union level. We must never diminish our support to the Belarusian civil society and independent media. They need our help now,” said the Speaker of the Saeima.
Mūrniece stated that, unfortunately, the COVID-19 pandemic highlighted disinformation and misleading information on the Internet as a threat to public health and safety, and underlined the readiness of authoritarian states to use disinformation and influence campaigns as a foreign affairs weapon. We must strengthen the disinformation combating capabilities of the EU and NATO, and, therefore, it is crucial to establish unified standards of responsibility and transparency for online platforms at a European leve, stressed Mūrniece.
The digital BA session was also attended by Henn Põlluaas, Speaker of the Estonian Riigikogu, and Viktoras Pranckietis, Speaker of the Lithuanian Seimas.
Information about the BA:
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 16 members from each country’s parliament. It is a coordinating and consultative organisation which has a right to express its opinion to the national parliaments and governments of the Baltic States, as well as the Baltic Council of Ministers, in the form of resolutions, decisions, declarations and recommendations; it also has a right to request the above-mentioned bodies to provide information on cross-border issues that are high on the Baltic Assembly’s agenda.
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Saeima Press Service