Lithanian President Dalia Grybauskaitė opened the 4th Annual Forum of the EU Strategy for the Baltic Sea Region on Nov. 11.
Around 700 participants have gathered in Vilnius for one of the largest and most important events of the Lithuanian EU Presidency.
The forum is devoted to discussing challenges in the Baltic Sea region and ways to meet environmental requirements and promote economic growth, job creation and competitiveness.
The EU Strategy for the Baltic Sea Region covers eight member states - Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, Poland, Germany, Denmark, Sweden and Finland. The strategy aims to improve regional transport networks, enhance the security of energy supplies by renewing infrastructure, and to ensure the clean Baltic Sea and safe navigation.
"It is a good example for the whole of Europe how close cooperation serves to promote integration and improve networking among governmental institutions, private sector and non-governmental organizations," Grybauskaite said.
She underlined that progress in implementing energy projects of the Baltic Sea region is especially important for Lithuania. Priorities of the Lithuanian EU Presidency include progress towards completing the EU internal energy market by 2014 and eliminating energy islands by 2015, as well as promotion of energy efficiency and better coordination in the EU external energy policy. To this end, it is vital to implement the energy projects of common interest. The European Commission has identified 15 energy projects from the Baltic States, including 6 from Lithuania.
Regional cooperation between Nordic and Baltic countries is intensifying. Close collaboration is maintained in foreign policy, security, defence and other areas.
The President together with the European Commissioner for Regional Policy, Johannes Hahn, visited an exhibition where they viewed the stands displaying major projects of the Baltic Sea region - a model of the liquefied natural gas terminal, environmental projects, as well as projects on safer navigation in the Baltic Sea, organic farms and waste management.