“This is a difficult time, but it is also a time of opportunity. Latvia and Lithuania must find new avenues for cooperation and speed up ongoing projects of strategic importance,” highlighted Speaker Smiltēns during his meeting with Viktorija Čmilytė-Nielsen, Speaker of the Parliament of Lithuania, in Vilnius, capital of Lithuania, on Tuesday, 29 November.
The Speaker of the Saeima pointed out that Latvia and Lithuania are close partners and strategic allies with an active political and economic dialogue, united by a common vision on regional and international issues. Since 24 February, our cooperation is focused on assisting Ukraine and standing firmly against Russia’s aggression. The Parliament of Latvia is about to create groups for promoting cooperation with parliaments of other countries, and the group for promoting cooperation with the Lithuanian Seimas will be among the first, said Speaker Smiltēns.
“We see the Iron Curtain coming down again and feel the breeze of the Cold War. We must be ready for prolonged confrontation with an aggressive and unpredictable neighbour. Ukrainians are paying in blood to buy us time for preparation, because the Baltic region must be ready for every future scenario,” Speaker Smiltēns said to his peers in Lithuania.
Both parties agreed that Rail Baltica is one of the most important regional integration projects, and that its advancement currently also requires a strong political impetus. Speaker Smiltēns emphasised that the project must be finished as soon as possible, and that an agreement on the infrastructure management format, laid down in an intergovernmental agreement, must be made in the nearest future.
Energy security in the region is currently an important cooperation priority; therefore, the Baltic States should not delay the synchronisation of the electricity networks. The Klaipėda LNG terminal is currently the main short-term alternative to Russian natural gas imports, said Speaker Smiltēns, highlighting that Latvia must make long-term plans to build its own LNG terminal.
During the meeting, the speakers of parliaments also discussed the possibilities of closer military cooperation, including the idea to develop a joint military range in the border areas of both countries, which would serve as an excellent training ground for allied troops.
Speaker Smiltēns is currently on a visit to Vilnius, where he is visiting the Parliament of Lithuania and meeting with members of the Group for Interparliamentary Relations with Latvia. The Speaker of the Saeima also met with President Gitanas Nausėda and Prime Minister Ingrida Šimonytė.
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Saeima Press Service