VILNIUS - On Nov. 9 the 18th Baltic Council met in the Seimas to discuss issues including the development of the Baltic energy market, overall measures and projects encouraging economic growth, the creation of a single digital market and mutual healthcare projects, reports ELTA. The Council also evaluated the progress of the 2012 cooperation priorities and set goals for 2013.
President of the Baltic Assembly Paulius Saudargas, who opened the event, highlighted the importance of the Baltic Assembly and the Baltic Council cooperation. Saudargas said that the Baltic States’ cooperation agreement on joint procurement of medical products and equipment is one of the best examples of coordination.
Speeches were made by the chairman of the Baltic Council of Ministers, Lithuania’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Audronius Azubalis, Latvia’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Edgars Rinkevics and Estonian Foreign Minister Urmas Paet.
Lithuania’s Foreign Minister Azubalis pointed out that Lithuania during its presidency of the European Council will seek to take into account the common interests of the Baltic States.
A joint statement of the 18th Baltic Council was signed highlighting that the priorities of the European Union (EU) budget must be consistent with the EU policy objectives promoting the growth of the economy.
It’s best to work together
Coordinated action and mutual support between the Baltics is necessary not only during the times of the barricades and during revolutions, but also on a consistent basis when defending common positions within the European Union or implementing various projects, Latvia’s Saeima Speaker Solvita Aboltina told parliamentarians during the Baltic Assembly session.
The Saeima speaker emphasized that the Baltic countries are interested in the vitality of the European Union. Admitting that this geo-political region is currently going through not only a financial and economic crisis, but also a political one, Aboltina urged Baltic parliamentarians to come together to find a framework for future development. “It is important for this generation to come together, so that we do not lose in a few years what the previous generations have carefully created over 60 years.”
She said that as discussions on the EU’s next multi-annual budget come to a close, much has been done to convince EU members that it is not acceptable to have an unfair division of direct payments to farmers, and that cohesion financing is an important instrument for growth. “We still do not know whether we have won this battle, as the overall background is not in our favor. However, it is worth praising our coordinated efforts on these matters.”
As one of the most perspective areas of cooperation between the Baltics, Aboltina mentioned cooperation in science, research, technology and innovations. She said that huge investments are needed to develop these areas, which may be too hard for each individual country, thus the Baltic Assembly proposes governments to create a task-force on the creation of joint Baltic research, technology and innovation infrastructure.
Speaking about the achievements of the Baltic Assembly, Aboltina emphasized that the organization has put in much efforts the past several years to achieve practical results for citizens, and that one of the main achievements recently is the implementation of specific projects in healthcare.
In her address, Aboltina pointed out that the Baltic Assembly must also continue to follow along in the progress of regional and strategically important energy and infrastructure projects. “In this context, we are interested in the new Lithuanian government’s position on the Visaginas Nuclear Power Plant project, taking into account the recent referendum in the country,” the Saeima speaker emphasized.
At the end of her address, the Saeima speaker thanked her Lithuanian colleagues on a successful presidency of the Baltic Assembly, and wished the newly elected Lithuanian parliament success in its work. “With selfless passion, well thought out decisions, and mutual support, it is in our power to achieve that the people of the Baltics will continue to live in a prosperous Europe, while at the same time enjoying peace, democratic development and prosperity,” Aboltina said.
The Baltic Assembly is an inter-parliamentary cooperation organization of Latvia, Estonia and Lithuania established on Nov. 8, 1991. The Baltic Assembly consists of national delegations - twelve to twenty members from each country’s parliament. The Baltic Assembly is a coordinating and consultative organization. It has the right to express its opinion in the form of resolutions, decisions, declarations and recommendations to the national parliaments and governments of the Baltic States and to the Baltic Council of Ministers. It also has the right to request information from these entities on how cross-border issues, which are a priority on the Baltic Assembly’s agenda, are being dealt with.