Vilnius, Lithuania, 9 March 2018 – Prime Minister Jüri Ratas discussed issues of defence and security, current affairs of the European Union and joint energy, and transport projects today in Vilnius with the Lithuanian and Latvian heads of government, Saulius Skvernelis and Māris Kučinskis, and their Polish colleague Mateusz Morawiecki.
Ratas noted at the meeting that largely owing to the successful collaboration with like-minded countries, friends in the European Union and allies at NATO, the life of the people of the Baltic states and Poland is better than ever before and their security solid.
“Like in case of the recent Presidency of the Council of the EU, unity is important to Estonia also in NATO. Unity is ensured by not only thinking about ourselves, but also others. NATO is engaged with the security of all allies. Estonia contributes to ensuring security in Lebanon, Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere,” said Ratas.
According to Ratas, at the same time it is necessary to move forward with ensuring the security of the Baltic region and Poland. “We must continue our work to make sure that NATO reinforcements would arrive in the Baltic states as quickly as possible should it prove necessary,” told the Prime Minister.
The prime ministers had a longer discussion on the current affairs of the European Union. “There are very important negotiations ongoing that have a strong impact on the future of all people and areas of cooperation: Brexit and the next multiannual budget. It is in our interests that the European Union’s joint budget remains the same size after Brexit to the extent possible, to maintain the prospect of funding the joint priorities of the European Union and the Baltic states,” explained Ratas.
The Baltic states have several very important joint projects lined up for the coming years, which will improve people’s lives, the business environment, as well as security. One of these projects is the construction of Rail Baltic to connect Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania to the rest of the Europe. Rail Baltic will enable seamless transport of goods from Northern Scandinavia to the Mediterranean countries in the future.
“It has been agreed and also approved by the Estonian parliament, how to implement the Rail Baltic project. The project is moving forward steadily. If we stick to the agreements and follow the working plan, there is hope to open traffic on the new railway in 2026,” said Ratas.
Another important joint project is disconnecting the Baltic electricity systems from Russia and joining Europe to ensure the energy security of the Baltic states and modernise the electrical grid. “In spring, surveys will be completed and the next steps will be discussed by early summer. Work will then start to apply for co-financing from the European Union already in the current budget period,” noted Ratas.
Photos of the meeting: https://www.dropbox.com/sh/1qviuoe6vhthdzz/AADQ7pL427_XcRIUrjbZJOtYa?dl=0
The joint priorities of the Baltic states for the next multiannual financial framework of the EU:
- first, better connectivity and cross-border major projects like Rail Baltic and disconnecting the Baltic electrical systems from Russia and connecting to Europe, but also new digital links and services;
- second, the cohesion policy or support for economic growth and reforms;
- third, the harmonisation of the direct payments of the common agricultural policy. Direct payments in the Baltic states are still among the lowest in the European Union;
- fourth, the financing of security, defence, the external border and the neighbourhood policy.