Latvia and Estonia reading from the same page, say presidents

Latvia and Estonia already enjoy close relations, and hopefully that closeness will get even closer in future, the two countries' presidents said Friday in Riga.

Speaking to journalists after their first series of bilateral meetings, Latvia's President Raimonds Vejonis and Estonia's Kersti Kaljurand said they looked forward to further cooperation.

After a meeting over dinner last night, the presidential pair were reunited Friday morning with Vejonis welcoming his counterpart to Riga Castle with the words: "How did you spend last evening?"

"Talking with my colleagues," Kaljulaid replied, as the official video below shows.

Then Vejonis gave Kaljulaid a guided tour of freshly-renovated Riga Castle before both presidents stepped up to the plate for a joint press conference.

During their talks they covered lots of topics given the "dynamic" state of current affairs in the world at the moment, Vejonis said, including the situation in Ukraine, tensions between Russia and the West, the migration crisis and more.

"Its very important to have good, friendly relations with Estonia," Vejonis said,"Our cooperation is founded on the same principles: freedom and democracy."

He also lauded the Rail Baltica project as  very important one for the whole region ad criticised the Nordstream II pipeline project as not answering the needs of a joint European energy security policy.

"It has no real economic basis," Vejonis said.

In response a relaxed and confident-looking Kaljulaid immediately won over her audience with a startling family revelation: "We could easily have shared a name, had I been a boy - my younger brother is named Raimond, after Raimonds Pauls, so I have an intimate link to Latvia in our family," she said.

Estonia and Latvia were "like-minded" in their analysis of he international situation, she stated. "We can always learn from each other."

While acknowledging that increased defense spending was costly, Kaljulaid said in the case of the Baltic states the cost was fully justified: "It is always about security - security is the most important aim for us. We need to keep our countries safe, to hand them over to our children and grandchildren."

The relative youth of both presidents "makes it easy to talk to one another in an open and matter-of-fact way," Kaljulaid said, in a very positive signal for the future.

"We have promised to exchange mobile phone numbers and exchange them as often as we need," she said.

On a more serious note, Kaljulaid stressed the need for rapid progress on Rail Baltica, admitting that Estonians had been considering whether the project had been handled the right way and emphasizing that EU funding deadlines had to be met promptly.

 

 

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