President of the Riigikogu (Parliament of Estonia) Jüri Ratas and Prime Minister of Lithuania Ingrida Šimonytė discussed strengthening of bilateral relations, cooperation in international relations and the issues relating to energy security of the region at their meeting today.
“The relations between Estonia and Lithuania are close. Lithuania is our strategic and like-minded partner bilaterally, regionally, in the European Union and in the work of other international organizations,” Ratas said. “Our parliaments cooperate very closely in the Baltic Assembly.”
Speaking of synchronisation of electrical grids, Ratas said that energy security and the synchronisation of Baltic electricity grids was a strategic project for the whole region. “We must continue our efforts to complete all necessary infrastructure as soon as possible, and synchronize the electricity grids with the EU by 2025,” Ratas said. He added that energy cooperation in offshore projects also offered new possibilities. “This will let us better connect our energy markets and provide more flexibility for the entire electricity system,” he underlined.
Regarding defence cooperation, Ratas highlighted common development of defence capabilities, joint procurements and investments into improving the military mobility infrastructure. “The defence forces of the Baltic states are actively working on common defence capability development,” he emphasised. “Such cooperation has a great potential to meaningfully improve the defence and deterrence posture of our region.” Ratas said that he was glad that Lithuania already hosted a U.S. battalion, because a credible and persistent U.S. military presence strengthened the deterrence also in other Baltic countries.
Step by step completion of the objects of Rail Baltic was highlighted as a project that was important for the development of the two countries and the whole region.
The situation of the COVID-10 spread, vaccination, and the issues relating to border crossing and corona restrictions between countries were also discussed at the meeting. Besides that, the increasing influx of immigrants to Lithuania via Belarus was spoken about. Ratas pointed out that, in this light, coordinated border control and crisis management were becoming more important.
The Eastern Partnership, which both parties regarded geopolitically important, was discussed as well. “We have to support our Eastern partners also when times are challenging,” Ratas said. “It will be more important than ever to find ways to support the Eastern Partnership countries in their process of building up sustainable societies, and their civil societies.”
The meeting was also attended by Chairman of the National Defence Committee of the Riigikogu Enn Eesmaa and Deputy Chairman of the Estonia-Lithuania Parliamentary Friendship Group Aivar Sõerd, who emphasised the importance of parliamentary cooperation.
Photos of the meeting (Erik Peinar, Riigikogu)
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