Latvian MPs protest Baltic Assembly budget-cut

  • 2005-09-28
  • From wire reports
RIGA - Faced with a budget-cut that could impair the Baltic Assembly's integrity, Baltic MPs will negotiate how to further finance the organization at a meeting in Riga on Sept. 29 's 30.
Estonia recently announced its decision to cut annual financing to the assembly from 100,000 to 65,000 euros.

Head of the assembly's parliamentary delegation, Valerijus Simulikas, told the Baltic News Service that the presidium meeting would cover all salient issues, including those related to the budget.

"Lithuania and Latvia have budgeted 100,000 euros each to finance the assembly, and Estonia has decided to allocate 65,000 euros for the alliance next year," Simulikas said.

Deeply dissatisfied by this decision, Latvian MPs have sent a letter of protest to Estonian leaders.

"Estonia has unilaterally resolved to cut the finance of the BA, so the assembly will be unable to achieve its goals. By reducing finance, Estonia actually said 'no' to Baltic unity," the head of Latvia's delegation to the assembly, Aigars Petersons, said.

In his words, although no official reply from Estonia is available so far, the issue will most likely be addressed at the presidium meeting this week. Hopefully a solution will be agreed upon, he said. If not, the Baltic Assembly will have to cut down the scope of its work.

"If the budget is cut, the assembly will not be able to achieve its prescribed objectives," Petersons said.

"If we want the Baltic Assembly to expand Baltic-Nordic cooperation and strengthen trans-Atlantic ties, it will require adequate financial resources and organizational arrangements," Latvian lawmakers wrote in their letter to the Estonian government.

In 1992 the Baltic Assembly, which was founded in 1991, started cooperating with the Nordic Council. Since 1996 both organizations hold joint meetings every two years to discuss issues related to the Baltic Sea region.

Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia each have delegated 20 MPs to the Baltic Assembly.