President Levits visits Tartu

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Latvian State President Egils Levits is off on his travels again Friday and Saturday, though this time his foreign trip is a short one, just across the nothern border to Tartu, Estonia's second-largest city.

The agenda there includes the meeting with new Estonian President Alar Karis which was put on hold by Levits' positive Covid-19 test following a trip to Sweden, plus meetings with Tartu city council, the University of Tartu, the Estonian National Museum and the Baltic Defense College.

A joint press conference of the two presidents took place Friday afternoon, and can be watched below. According to the presidential chancellery, the presidents will discuss co-operation in the fields of security, economics and higher education.

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The two leaders spoke warmly about each others' countries and the role the University of Tartu has played in their shared history through "centuries of learning and knowledge".


On the Covid-19 pandemic, President Karis led the way saying:

“We are all in this together and we know vaccination is the only way out of this coronavirus crisis… it is of the utmost importance that each person does their part."

Asked about the sometimes different approaches to the pandemic taken by Latvia and Estonia but which appear to have had broadly similar outcomes, Karis stressed the need for accurate scientific data to inform decisions in future.

For his part, Levits declared himself "incredibly happy" to be in Tartu and described Estonians as “the closest friends which we Latvians have”.

Both Presidents expressed hopes that a regular direct rail service between Rīga and Tartu could be restored.

"It is not a technical issue but only a political and legal issue. We agreed that we should tell our governments that this question should be solved... We should agree in order that we can go through from Rīga to Tartu and Tartu to Rīga. It is a question that is relatively easy to solve if there is a will," Levits said.


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