Latvian President Egils Levits met with Lithuanian President Gitanas Nauseda and Estonian President Alar Karis in Vilnius. The presidents of the Baltic States also had an online conversation with Polish President Andrzej Duda on the situation along the Belarus border and adopting a common response.
Press conference by the Presidents of Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia https://t.co/4E2Z2oScUg— Gitanas Nausėda (@GitanasNauseda) November 15, 2021
The presidents of the three Baltic states put out a joint statement on the matter, which reads:
We, President of the Republic of Estonia Alar Karis, President of the Republic of Latvia Egils Levits and President of the Republic of Lithuania Gitanas Nausėda, met in Vilnius on 15 November 2021. We have discussed the ongoing hybrid attack launched by the Belarusian regime, also shared our views on the deteriorating situation on the EU’s external border with Belarus.
Taking into account the declared state of emergency on the Latvian, Lithuanian and Polish border with Belarus, the European Council Conclusions of 21 and 22 October 2021 and the Statement by the North Atlantic Council on the situation at the Poland-Belarus border of November 12, we the Presidents of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania, jointly:
- condemn the actions taken by the Lukashenko regime instrumentalizing migrants for political purposes;
- are concerned for the human rights and safety of the migrants currently in Belarus, who are being forced to breach the European Union border, and urge to hold the Lukashenko regime accountable for human trafficking;
- express full support for actions taken by the Republic of Poland to protect the EU’s external border;
- express their appreciation to the European Union institutions and agencies, in particular Frontex, and our fellow Member States for their support in this hybrid attack;
- call on the European Commission to implement the European Council conclusions of 21 and 22 October 2021 without delay by proposing the necessary changes to the EU legal framework on migration and asylum policy and providing adequate EU financial support for building physical barriers and infrastructure;
- appreciate NATO Allies’ solidarity and support for remaining vigilant against the risk of further escalation and provocation by Belarus through continued instrumentalization of illegal migration and for monitoring the implications for the security of the Alliance;
- invite EU and NATO leaders to increase diplomatic efforts in the countries of origin of illegal migration;
- call on all relevant international organizations to actively engage in resolving the situation created by the Lukashenko regime. The ongoing serious situation was addressed and assessed by the UN Security Council, and we call for concrete actions by UNHRC, UNHCR and IOM;
- express readiness to continue supporting the Belarusian civil society.
Separately, Latvian President Egils Levits said: "This is not a refugee crisis, but a hybrid attack. We will work actively to put this issue on the agenda of both the European Union and NATO."
Nor was that the only joint expression of the day. The Balic trio also issued a 'Declaration on The Baltics’ Way to Climate Neutrality' which said:
Having in mind that sustainable development and addressing climate change are of utmost importance, especially in the context of protecting the Baltic Sea,
Having in mind that a clean environment and preserved nature are undoubtedly unique features and one of the greatest treasures of each of the Baltic countries,
Having in mind the Sixth Assessment Report of the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate change and its conclusions that stabilizing the climate requires strong, rapid and sustained reductions in greenhouse gas emissions,
Having in mind the EU’s ambitious 2030 greenhouse gas emission reduction targets and climate neutrality goals by 2050, and the European Commission’s proposed “Fit for 55” package, and building on the outcomes of the 26th UN Climate Change Conference of the Parties in Glasgow on 1-12 November 2021,
The Presidents of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania underline the need for strengthened Baltic cooperation in addressing climate change, and call for:
- individual and joint commitment by people, non-governmental organizations, businesses and Governments of the Baltic States to work and strive for climate neutral Baltic countries, at the same time managing social and economic effects of the transition and strengthening competitiveness of the region;
- promotion by non-governmental stakeholders of and active consideration by development and infrastructure institutions for the principle of safeguarding biodiversity against climate change impacts in the Baltic countries;
- enhanced cooperation on climate, directed at joint preventive and control strategies of institutions, strengthening the participation of civil societies and local communities through joint initiatives and project platforms;
- investment in research, development and innovation by industries, and support by the Baltic governments to such efforts, aimed at ensuring that the Baltic economies are at the forefront of transformation;
- strengthened cooperation aiming at a level-playing field at a global level that addresses the risk of carbon leakage through well calibrated and fair EU mechanism– a necessary instrument aiming to support achieving climate neutrality of the industry and energy sectors of the Baltic countries, as well as of the whole EU and at a global level;
- support to Baltic climate neutrality technology and services pioneers, innovators and exporters; promotion of the Baltic States’ international standing as knowledge-based, innovative, green, socially inclusive and sustainable economies; as well as support to joint science and research projects looking into available and potential climate neutrality solutions, including environmentally sound carbon capture and utilization, hydrogen, and others;
- identification and implementation of possible actions to decrease the carbon footprint by stakeholders in the transport, energy, industry, building, agriculture, waste and other sectors, at the same time using available resources to become models for a high added value economy;
- timely delivery of Rail Baltica by the Governments of the Baltic States and bringing all related benefits and climate neutral transport and logistics solutions to the Baltic countries;
- deeper cooperation within the framework of the Three Seas Initiative with a view to implementing cross-border energy, transport and digital infrastructure projects that facilitate climate neutrality as well as promote digital and green trusted secure connectivity across the region;
- focusing efforts on the sustainability of maritime industries, sustainable mobility solutions and digitalization in rural as well as urban areas with the aim to strengthen regional cohesion;
- sustainable development of offshore wind projects in the Baltic Sea as a means to significantly increase the share of renewable sources-based electricity and pave the way to the decarbonization of the regional economies;
- efforts by financial institutions, private businesses and joint ventures to unlock the potential of green finances.
After visiting the Palace of the President of Lithuania, the President of Latvia and the President of Estonia met with the Vilnius University management and representatives of the Department of Baltic Studies at the Faculty of Philology.
In 2022, the equivalent meeting will take place in Latvia, though the presidents meet much more often than once a year in bilateral and summit meetings of various sorts. Indeed, Levits and Karis met as recently as November 5 and throughout the Covid-19 pandemic the Baltic presidents have had frequent remote discussions.