President meets the southern neighbors

Freshly-installed President Raimonds Vejonis made his second foreign visit in less than a week on Monday - and like his first, it wasn't very far.

After paying a call on Estonian president Toomas Hendrik Ilves last Thursday, Vejonis took time to catch up with Latvia's other Baltic neighbor, Lithuania, with a trip to hook up with President Dalia Grybauskaite in Vilnius.

"The Presidents discussed prospects for strengthening bilateral and regional cooperation, the further development of joint energy and transport projects and the security issues of the Baltic region and the whole of Europe," a statement by Grybauskaite's office said.

"Latvian relations with Lithuania have always been and always will be special because we are brother nations. Latvia and Lithuania are united in a common future based on shared values and interests. We are not only linked by a common geography and history, but also the tasks we face at the moment as part of our membership of the European Union and NATO," Vejonis said.

“Lithuania and Latvia are linked by strong political, economic and cultural ties. We are part of the same region and share many interests. Today we are facing the same challenges posed to our national security. We are stronger when we act together. Therefore, we will continue close cooperation in the areas of security and defence, economy and energy,” Grybauskaite said.

The pair also discussed how t best use the Riga-based NATO Strategic Communications Centre Center of Excellence (STRATCOMCOE) offers a whole range of opportunities and measures for this purpose. It is important to use them effectively. Lithuania, too, participates in the activities of this centre. The President pointed out that the EU’s strategic communications plan, currently in the make, must be ambitious and adapted to the newly emerging threats.

They also highlighted the importance of implementing joint energy projects. A regional gas market, which will cover the three Baltic States, is currently being developed and Grybauskaite was keen to point out that Lithuania’s LNG terminal can supply all the Baltic countries with gas and that a regional gas market would be created and bring benefit to every person in the Baltic States only when the EU’s third energy package was implemented in all of them - a not so subtle hint at Latvian foot-dragging on the matter.

The meeting also addressed the synchronization of Baltic electricity grids with Europe whoch would "help incorporate transparent European standards and rules for managing the power system, restrict Russia’s influence in the electricity sector in our region, and reduce the price of electricity to consumers," according to Grybauskaite.

Politics
Politics