RIGA - The presidents of Lithuania and Estonia were in Riga on July 3 to say goodbye to Latvian President Vaira Vike-Freiberga, whose presidency has been instrumental in raising the profile of the Baltic region.
The Lithuanian and Estonian presidents arrived in Latvia in time to greet Vike-Freiberga at Riga Castle at 10 a.m. The three leaders then discussed a number of issues important to the states, including energy concerns and European Union affairs.
Their jam-packed, carefully planned schedule led them to the 11:30 unveiling of comprehensive electronic Latvian-Lithuanian and Latvian-Estonian dictionaries.
Lithuania's Valdas Adamkus and Estonia's Toomas Hendrik Ilves also used the opportunity to discuss future cooperation with Latvia once Valdis Zatlers takes office on July 8.
They both foresaw a continuation of the strong ties that have marked the three Baltic states since independence.
"I do not see any reasons to consider the Latvian president a bad cooperation partner. I believe he will continue the tradition of good cooperation. I have no grounds to assess the situation otherwise," Adamkus said at a press conference, hinting at the amount of criticism Zatlers has been subjected to since winning the election on May 31.
Ilves, meanwhile, pointed out that all three Baltic states have issues that they need to solve together.
"I think that the prospects are very good. I do not see any reason for doubt here. We have many common issues 's both in the EU and NATO, our cooperation is only getting deeper," the Estonian president said.
The three leaders also discussed the sour relations between Estonia and Russia, which plunged to a new low after the Bronze Soldier riots in April. The Latvian and Lithuanian leaders both expressed strong support and solidarity with Estonia.
Vike-Freiberga implied that Russia "should not have acted in such a way," while Adamkus noted that the "the events allowed for expression of our unity."
All three presidents received the "Cicero" award from renowned academic Janis Stradins, chairman of the senate of the Latvian Academy of Sciences. The award was given to acknowledge the work of the three presidents in promoting the Baltic states abroad. The Cicero awards, given for outstanding performance in journalism, politics, advertising and public relations, are in their ninth year.
After a short press conference, Vike-Freiberga and Adamkus attended an exhibition opening titled "New jewelry of Lithuania."
The three Baltic leaders, along with President-elect Zatlers, went to Vike-Freiberga's Jurmala residence for a luncheon.