Latvian and Estonian governments meet for centenary

The Latvian and Estonian governments on August 21 held a joint meeting at the National Library of Latvia, commemorating the countries' centenary and discussing regional safety, energy, and information exchange, reported LTV.

Three years ago, Latvia held a joint meeting with Lithuania but this was the first time that the meeting was held with Estonia. The two countries agreed to increase cooperation in different areas, including defense, fighting propaganda and discussing the allocation of EU funds. 

"Today I can safely say that there are more areas in which Latvia and Estonia cooperate rather than compete. It seems self-evident as we've plenty of matters where our interests align. In my opinion, today a new step is being taken in the cooperation between the two countries," said Latvia's PM Māris Kučinskis (Greens and Farmers Union).

Meanwhile Estonia's PM Jüri Ratas said that this was the first time Estonia held a government meeting outside Estonia. "It's something special. It testifies to the fact that there's special and very close friendship between the two countries," he said.

Energy was a hot topic in the meeting, as several big projects are ahead. In order to reduce dependence on Russia, the Baltics plan to fully integrate within the EU's power grid. The main prerequisite is a link between Poland and Russia, but a direct Latvia-Estonia interlink is also necessary.

While two years from now, a joint Baltic gas market is to be created.

The two PMs commended the progress made in the Rail Baltica project, and also agreed to strengthen cooperation between the countries' revenue services.

"The Finance Ministers have agreed that increased data exchange will begin between the revenue services to better combat VAT schemes and unfair business practices. The agreement should be inked de facto soon," said Kučinskis. 

Meanwhile, the countries' Interior Ministers signed an agreement over data exchange between population registries, with Estonia and Latvia providing each other information about residents moving up north or down south. 

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