Speaker Smiltēns in Estonia: our cooperation must bring tangible benefits for the people in both countries


Our common goal is furthering regional integration. In other words, we must work to achieve increasingly seamless borders between the Baltic States, so that the people living, working, or relaxing in a neighbouring country on a daily basis would encounter increasingly less inconvenience and bureaucratic obstacles. This was highlighted by Edvards Smiltēns, Speaker of the Saeima, during a meeting with Jüri Ratas, Speaker of the Estonian Parliament, in Vilnius, capital of Estonia, on Tuesday, 22 November.

One of such examples is the cross-border functionality of e-prescriptions, which would enable the people of Latvia to buy prescribed medication in a neighbouring country and vice versa. Both speakers of parliaments agreed that political support is required for such initiatives to ensure that the system that is already successfully working between Estonia and Finland would also be possible between Latvia and Estonia in the near future.  

The speakers of parliaments acknowledged that transport infrastructure projects will also bring the countries much closer. Speaker Smiltēns stated that Latvia is willing to restore rail traffic between Riga and Tartu, which is already a popular destination for Latvian tourists. It would be equally important to develop the Rail Baltica connection so that the trip from Tallinn to Riga would take less than two hours. This is a matter of security, not just convenience, as the Rail Baltica infrastructure will significantly improve the military logistics capacity in the entire region, said the Speaker of the Saeima.  

While discussing the current geopolitical situation and security challenges, Speaker Smiltēns pointed out that our countries must prepare for a prolonged opposition to Russia as they completely abandon cooperation with the aggressor state and re-orient their economies and education systems. “I see it as the new Iron Curtain, but this time we are on the right side of it,“ said the Speaker of the Saeima. 

“The gates of hell have opened on Ukrainian soil, and the West must do everything to close them. It is crucial that after the war, the Russian society recognises the war crimes committed, and the people responsible receive just punishment. This is the only way to restore an international rule-based world order,” highlighted Edvards Smiltēns during his meeting with the Speaker of the Parliament of Estonia.

Speaker Ratas commended Latvia’s cooperation in the Baltic Assembly and the priorities set under its presidency that Estonia will continue working on in 2023 when it will take over the presidency in this interparliamentary organisation. The most important items on the agenda will undoubtedly be aid to Ukraine and contribution to its recovery after the war.

The speakers of the Saeima and the Riigikogu agreed on close future dialogue, including at a personal level, to coordinate cooperation and solve issues that are important for both countries. 

During his visit of the NATO Cooperative Cyber Defence Centre of Excellence, the Speaker of the Saeima pointed out the importance of the synchronisation of allied cyber defence capabilities in developing an interoperable cyber defence architecture. 

Speaker Smiltēns is currently on a visit to Tallinn, where he is visiting the Parliament of Estonia, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, as well as the NATO Cooperative Cyber Defence Centre of Excellence. After taking office, the Speaker of the Saeima will first visit neighbouring Estonia and Lithuania.

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Saeima Press Service

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