Baltics and Poland talk over regional issues

The Prime Ministers of the three Baltic states plus Poland met in the Estonian capital Tallinn May 8 to discuss various topics.

And while the four leaders inevitably talked up their support for each other it was notceable that each was primarily interested in slightly different things.

In a low-key press conference Latvia's, Prime Minister Maris Kučinskis talked up the Rail Baltica infrastructure project and the need for cooperation in combating Kremlin information war.

"Clearly, the objective of security for all four countries is the same and we need to continue the existing cooperation. Particular importance is strategic communication as a means to fight against Russia-distributed propaganda," said Kučinskis.

On Rail Baltica he insisted it had "both a security dimension as well as an economic foundation and welcomed Polish "interest" in Rail Baltica even though there was no firm Polish commitment to become a partner. 

"Rail Baltica "is currently one of the most promising of all European Union projects," Kučinskis said by way of enticement.

Meanwhile Estonian PM Juri Ratas was keen to discuss construction of a proposed privately-financed LNG terminal at Paldiski in Estonia, saying: "The regional LNG solution must be cost-effective and sustainable in the long term, and I believe this would be ensured by a LNG terminal project that is undertaken by private investors,” Ratas said.

“When we speak of long-term solutions, the most reasonable would be to construct the terminal here, in Paldiski, for example,” Ratas added. To prove the point, he whisked his colleagues off to the construction site.

Lithuanian PM Saulius Skvernelis emphasised the importance of his own country's LNG terminal and a gas link with Poland while condemning the Russian/German Nord Stream II pipeline project: "We are like-minded on many foreign policy issues. Including NATO’s role for the regional security, the Eastern Partnership, the need to foster greater unity in the European Union, Russia’s aggression against Ukraine and its territorial integrity. Close cooperation is particularly important for our energy security and the joint energy and transport infrastructure projects”, said Skvernelis. 

He also backed up Kucinskis to some extent on the importance of Rail Baltica, saying: “Given the current geopolitical situation and NATO presence in the region, it is very important to have in place as early as possible a direct railway link between Tallinn and Warsaw. The existence of alternative transport links will contribute to securing resistance to external factors in the region.”

Polish PM Beate Szydlo drew attention to "signals coming from different parts of Europe to undermine the idea of a single market that are worrying. We must strongly defend what is the foundation of the European Union. The single market is the future of the European Union," she insisted, adding that the EU must maintain unity in Brexit negotiations.

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