Legislative chairwomen discuss Baltic Assembly

  • 2005-11-02
  • Staff and wire reports
RIGA - Latvian Parliamentary Chairwoman Ingrida Udre met with her Estonian colleague, Ene Ergma, this week to provide fresh impetus for the faltering Baltic Assembly.
Udre said that, rather than just passing resolutions, the Baltic Assembly needed to respond to regional developments more sharply, while Ergma called for increased efficiency.
"The Baltic Assembly must change, must make itself heard," Udre told reporters on Nov. 1. She said the Baltic Assembly should follow implementation of resolutions more closely and respond to developments more sharply.

Ergma agreed that the Baltic Assembly should become more noticeable and its activities should receive greater publicity. "Less red tape, more dynamics and flexibility" were the goals she stressed.

In September the assembly, which was created in 1991 to coordinate the three states' independence 's and later European integration 's efforts, faced a major crisis when Estonian delegates proposed cutting funding.

Latvian delegates reacted bitterly to the proposal and immediately began lobbying their Estonian colleagues to prevent what would have amounted to a serious weakening, if not dissolution, of the assembly.

Finally, in mid-October Estonia agreed not to cut its share of Baltic Assembly funding.

Udre and Ergma agreed that the Baltic states should think about new energy sources together. Udre said the two spoke about Lithuania's Ignalina Nuclear Power Plant, as well as Finland, which is building one of Europe's three new atomic power plants.

While meeting with Prime Minister Aigars Kalvitis, Ergma recounted efforts by Baltic MPs to review the assembly's objectives and make its work more efficient following the Baltics' accession to the EU and NATO.

Ergma suggested that one direction for Baltic Assembly work could be the EU new neighbor policy and assistance to neighboring new democracies 's Georgia, Ukraine and Moldova 's in strengthening their parliamentary systems.

Kalvitis responded by saying that Latvia was also interested and willing to support reform in neighboring countries.

Estonia's parliamentary speaker also met with President Vaira Vike-Freiberga. The two discussed the Baltic states' opportunities in regards to EU foreign policy initiatives. They agreed that the Baltic states should share their experience with countries striving toward democracy, including the South Caucasus, and that a Latvian-Estonian dictionary should be published in the near future.