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Baltic PMs discuss security in Vilnius

On Monday, May 13, the Latvian, Lithuanian and Estonian Prime Ministers met in Lithuania, Vilnius, to discuss regional security.

The PMs discussed the complete disconnection from the Russian energy system, the strengthening of regional connectivity, the progress of the Rail Baltica project, support for Ukraine, sanctions against Russia, and the enlargement of the European Union (EU).

Lithuanian Prime Minister Ingrida Šimonytė said at a press conference after the meeting that one of the most important strategic issues is the future enlargement of the European Union. Twenty years of participation by Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania is a success story.

"We have not just to be proud of our success, but also defend the core values that underpin the EU and do everything we can to expand this area of success. That is why we will start real negotiations on EU membership with Ukraine and Moldova as soon as possible by mid-year," Šimonytė said.

"Lithuania and Estonia have a special place in the hearts of the people of Latvia. We support each other and we stand in solidarity because we share history and values. We defend and protect our values, so we also have common security interests," said Evika Siliņa (New Unity), head of the Latvian government.

"The external borders of the Baltic States are also NATO and EU borders, therefore strengthening the deterrence and defense capabilities of Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia is essential for the whole alliance and the EU. Latvia will continue to invest in strengthening both our borders and combat capabilities," Siliņa said.

With security in mind, the Baltic States are also gradually disconnecting from Russian energy system networks, and full connection to Western European infrastructure is scheduled to be implemented in 2025. Meanwhile, the Rail Baltica rail link is not doing so great.

"An additional aspect that wasn't predictable before is military mobility. We didn't think about it when Rail Baltica came along. It was a fully civilian project at first. So now, of course, the budget is the main problem, but to discuss further funding, we need to understand the readiness and timing of the project," Šimonytė said.

"The development of cross-border connections in our region is also a matter of European security," Estonian Prime Minister Kaja Kallas added. "Our goal is to complete the Raila Baltica project by 2030. To achieve this, we all need to keep working. In Estonia, we are about to start construction of the first 74 kilometers of railway line this year."

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