TALLINN - The presidents of Estonia and Latvia acknowledged at a meeting in Riga in Tuesday that the present shared challenge, the coronavirus pandemic, can be overcome by getting vaccinated and following restrictions, the Aktuaalne kaamera evening news program of ETV public television reported on Tuesday.
Copying one's neighbors restrictions may not prove efficient due to cultural differences, however, according to Estonian President Kersti Kaljulaid.
The virus has also left its mark on international communications. Face-to-face meetings are rarely held between heads of state these days; however, leaders of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania are nonetheless trying to meet in person.
On Monday, Speaker of the Lithuanian Seimas Viktorija Cmilyte-Nielsen visited Riga. The Estonian president was in Riga on Tuesday from where she headed to Lithuania on the same evening.
While March 2 marks the centenary of an important cooperation format for Estonia and Latvia, the two nations were intertwined long before that, Latvian President Egils Levits said.
"Estonia was one of the first countries with which Latvia as an internationally recognized state set up diplomatic relations. It is natural that such relations were first and foremost established between neighbors. Today is an important day in the history of our states but also in a broader sense as we had been living in the same political space for centuries before that," Levits said.
As to current important challenges, Kaljulaid highlighted the digital mindset and development.
"It is important that our partners in Europe should follow Estonia and Latvia in terms of developing a digital mindset. The European Union has decided that each European citizen needs to have a digital ID. That alone is not enough, however, as [the IDs] need to be compatible with one another. Estonia and Latvia have been cooperating for a long time towards our signatures and systems functioning better together. We're succeeding at it more and more. Estonia is ambitious and we're hoping Latvia will support us in this, and that in cooperation with the World Health Organization, all digital vaccination and certification systems will be joined into a shared system," Kaljulaid said.
Questions regarding why the restrictions for curbing the coronavirus are different in Estonia and Latvia and why the infection curve is moving differently are asked on a daily basis, she added, noting that this was a culture-related issue.
"This is a very interesting discussion, but we cannot really claim that by copying one side's [measures] and implementing them exactly the same way on the other side, we'd get the exact same outcome," she said.