Ukrainian grain exports via Baltic states possible if EC takes on coordination - Vitenbergs

  • 2023-08-04
  • LETA/TBT Staff

RIGA - If the European Commission (EC) takes up the coordination, the export of Ukrainian grain through the Baltic states is possible, Latvian Transport Minister Janis Vitenbergs (National Alliance) told LETA after a meeting with Latvian President Edgars Rinkevics.

The transport minister noted that one of the biggest problems is the transportation of grain to Latvia. According to Vitenbergs, the Transport Ministry previously coordinated the transport of grain by trucks, forming columns, but if the trucks have to spend two weeks on the Ukrainian-Polish border, this violates sanitary requirements.

Vitenbergs met the Ukrainian Ambassador to Latvia earlier this week, who admitted that Ukraine's aim is not to trade or leave the grain in the European Union (EU). Ukraine is looking for transit opportunities. The transport minister said that the ministry has prepared an offer, formulated its vision, in which the EC is invited to come to the rescue and reach a common vision on the export of grain from Ukraine to the region, as the Baltic states have sufficient port capacity, but it is through Poland that the grain could be transported.

Vitenbergs pointed out that the Rail Baltica railway project was discussed with the president. At the national level, there were several challenges, such as land expropriation, design delays and uneven financial flows.

The minister stressed that the main objective was to complete the line as soon as possible, so that it could serve the citizens and businesses of Latvia by transporting freight. The parties also discussed major projects to be implemented this year, such as the Via Baltica motorway, the Kekava bypass, which is scheduled for completion in the autumn. 

As president's aide Martins Dregeris informed LETA, during the meeting Rinkevics stressed that the Rail Baltica project is a high priority for Latvia, and its importance has also increased in the defense and security context of Latvia and the Baltic states.

The president pointed out that in the current situation it is necessary to clearly and promptly identify the main obstacles to the project, the justification for the cost increase and to find appropriate solutions to successfully complete the project in cooperation with Estonia and Lithuania by 2030. Rinkevics stressed that it is important to use the potential of Latvia's transport infrastructure for the export of Ukrainian grain.