TALLINN 's The three Baltic presidents met in the Estonian capital on Thursday to discuss the urgent issues facing the region, including air policing, the German-Russian gas pipeline and joining the visa-free Schengen zone.
The meeting, which took place on Lithuanian President Valdas Adamkus' 79th birthday, was organized as part of the presidents' efforts to further regional cooperation.
One of the more urgent matters the presidents discussed was the planned construction of an underwater pipeline connecting Russia and Germany. The $5 billion gas main, which will bypass the Baltics, poses an ecological threat to the region, the president said.
Estonian President Arnold Ruutel said the pipeline would affect an area of about 1,200 square kilometers along the entire Baltic coast, while Adamkus pointed out the project's exorbitant price tag.
The three Baltic presidents have in the past argued that the pipeline lacks economic sense and is therefore a purely political decision. Pundits have therefore referred to it derogatorily as the Putin-Schroeder pact, in reference to Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union's pact that carved up Eastern Europe in 1939.
Meanwhile, Latvian President Vaira Vike-Freiberga said he would like to see all three Baltic states to sign the Schengen Treaty at the same time. This would allow Baltic citizens visa-free travel throughout the entire Schengen zone, which includes many of the current EU members.