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Estonian President Kersti Kaljulaid visits Latvia

Estonia's President Kersti Kaljulaid is in Latvia March 2 on a working visit intended symbolically to mark the mutual de jure recognition of Latvia and Estonia and establishment of diplomatic relations between the two countries a century ago.

Her agenda includes a meeting with her Latvian counterpart President Egils Levits and a visit to the NATO Strategic Communications Centre of Excellence (STRATCOMCOE) which is based in Rīga.

"Everyone participating in the official events, including media, will be requested to wear face masks covering nose and mouth, observe social distancing rules, avoid shaking hands or sharing common use items," said a release from the Latvian Presidential Chancellery.

Speaking at Rīga Castle after her talks with Levits, Kaljulaid said she extended her sympathies to all victims of the coronavirus in Latvia and that all three Baltic states could learn from one another's experiences of the pandemic.

"One thing this pandemic has shown us... [is] the pandemic comes in waves, it rises and falls and it is not always clear what the reasons are. Of course we compare and analyze the information from different countries... At the moment the numbers in Estonia have been rising and I very much hope that the current restrictions are enough to see this wave decline," said Kaljulaid.

Levits struck a similar note, saying: "I think we must always take note of each other's experiences... both good and bad experiences.

"We must understand that this is a natural catastrophe, not a catastrophe created by people. It is a natural catastrophe like a volcanic eruption or an earthquake and we, as societies, react to it, mainly in similar ways but also with some differences. That's the case also with Estonia and Latvia," adding that  "It's not out of the question that there will be also a third wave."

"The sooner a large part of our populations are vaccinated, the sooner we can return to a normal direction," Levits said.

Other topics discussed included energy, with Kaljulaid expressing hopes for a wind park in the Gulf of Rīga to further reduce energy dependency on Russia and increase green energy capacity.

There were also expressions of support for Russian opposition figure Alexey Navalny and the continuing pro-democracy demonstrations in Belarus.

Asked if she intended to put her name forward for a second presidential term, Kaljulaid said she was always ready to serve her country in any capacity but that agreeing on a presidential candidate was currently a matter for the parliamentary factions to decide upon.



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