TALLINN - A joint sitting of an Estonian-Latvian intergovernmental committee is to take place in Tallinn on Friday where the success of the work done so far will be assessed and the the next directions for cooperation will be agreed upon.
Key topics to be discussed are a railway link between Riga and Tartu and a ship connection between the Estonian island of Saaremaa and the Latvian port city of Ventspils. Challenges in maintaining the image of the Baltic states as a safe tourist destination, which has been affected by Russia's aggression in Ukraine, will likewise be discussed.
"Estonia and Latvia are neighboring countries with good relations who have engaged in useful and successful cooperation in various areas over the years," Estonian Minister of Public Administration Riina Solman said.
"The development of a shared geodetic coordinate system covering the entire Estonian-Latvian border area is a good example of our completed cooperation projects in which the preparatory work of the intergovernmental committee has had a key role. With the cross-border cooperation program, Estonia and Latvia have developed several joint nature tourism and historical hiking trails over the past seven years," Solman said.
The two neighboring states believe there is a need to continuously improve and coordinate cooperation in developing the Baltic countries as a safe tourist destination.
In addition to future directions for development, a new Estonian-Latvian cross-border cooperation program will also be introduced at Friday's joint sitting.
Solman noted it is important that cooperation contracts and agreements should not get bogged down in needless bureaucracy and should instead be signed as rapidly as possible.
"They directly impact the quality of the lives of the people residing in our border areas. We must also make sure jointly that the concerns and needs of people in border areas should also be noticed in crisis situations," she went on.
The cooperation projects are important as the new 2021-2027 Estonian-Latvian cross-border cooperation program is set to open soon, which for the first time includes separate support for better cross-border administration and inter-community projects.
The Estonian-Latvian intergovernmental committee was formed in 2004 for the purpose of supporting and developing cooperation between the neighboring states, fostering the development of regions as well as resolving shared challenges.