Estonian president emphasizes importance of active regional cooperation with Latvia

  • 2023-07-10
  • BNS/TBT Staff

TALLINN – Estonian President Alar Karis on Monday congratulated his Latvian counterpart Edgars Rinkevics, who made his first visit to Estonia as the head of state, on his inauguration and highlighted the very good and active bilateral and regional cooperation between Estonia and Latvia.

Karis said Estonia and Latvia are close and good friends, who are also connected by the fact that both countries have their Song and Dance Festival this summer.

"In these extremely turbulent times, defense cooperation between Estonia and Latvia is more effective than ever," Karis said according to spokespeople. "We have learned to coordinate better, to organize joint procurements, to help each other. But we also have close cooperation in other areas -- we are creating more connections in energy, transport and digital infrastructure."

In this context, Karis named the Rail Baltic project, which requires a common voice in Brussels to progress, a new energy network between Estonia and Latvia, which helps mitigate the risk of desynchronization of the Baltic electricity grids, and the ELWIND offshore wind farm project.

"However, we can work together even more to improve the connections between us so that we do not remain an isolated peninsula in Europe," the Estonian head of state said.

The presidents of Estonia and Latvia spoke about Russia's war of aggression in Ukraine.

Karis said that all NATO allies are firm in their support for Ukraine, and this message will also be heard at the Vilnius summit.

"We also expect Ukraine to get clear milestones for building its future in NATO," he said.

The Estonian president said he is glad that Finland will be by our side at the Vilnius summit and expressed the hope that Sweden will join the alliance as soon as possible.

"We also want to take important decisions in Vilnius to strengthen our deterrence and defense posture and agree on a higher ambition for defense spending. More resources are needed to deal with the threats and challenges posed by Russia's brutal war against Ukraine," said the Estonian president.

Karis also raised the issue of Russia's accountability.

"The political and military leadership of Russia must be held accountable for the crimes of aggression," he said.

Karis also spoke about Ukraine's determination to proceed with the reforms necessary for accession to the European Union.

"Cooperation between like-minded member states is crucial to ensure that Ukraine carries out reforms and that the European Union will respond positively if Ukraine succeeds," the Estonian head of state said.