On 22-23 September, the members of the Presidium, Chairs and Vice Chairs of the Committees of the Baltic Assembly met at the Consultative Council in Riga.
During the meeting, the parliamentarians discussed the progress, successes and challenges of the parliamentary cooperation of the Baltic States under the Latvian presidency. President Jānis Vucāns informed about the work during 2022: "We started our year returning to regular physical meetings and events, thinking that finally we can return to normality. However, 24 February with the Russian Federation's full-scale military invasion of Ukraine substantially changed our plans for 2022. Cooperation in the field of security and defence, as well as support for Ukraine became fundamentally important tasks of the Baltic Assembly. We continued also with our planned agenda but adapted it to the current situation. It was hard to discuss many of the Baltic cooperation issues without taking into consideration the situation in Ukraine."
Another topic discussed during the meeting was the priorities and agenda of the Baltic Assembly under the Estonian presidency. Member of the Estonian delegation Urve Tiidus said that the Estonian delegation will take over the presidency with a strong willingness to continue building a resilient, safe, reliable, and sustainable Baltic region, which is especially crucial during a time when there is an ongoing war in Europe and democratic values are under threat. "That is why the motto of the Baltic Assembly for 2023 under the Estonian delegation is “Security. Support. Sustainability”. Our main priorities are: safe and resilient Baltic States; Baltic cooperation through unity, solidarity and support; and sustainable development of the Baltic States."
Parliamentarians together with the representatives of the Baltic Council of Ministers also discussed the cooperation between the Baltic Assembly and the Council of Ministers. President of the Baltic Assembly Jānis Vucāns and Parliamentary Secretary of the Latvian Minister of Foreign Affairs Zanda Kalniņa-Lukaševica exchanged their views about the cooperation and the security situation in the region.
Jānis Vucāns said that perhaps the most affected by the situation in Ukraine was the security and defence sector. It became clear that the Baltic States need to support Ukraine in joining the EU on a fast track, think about a Marshall Plan for Ukraine, and strategically discuss Russia after the war. It also became increasingly evident that the Baltic States need to be very active in explaining to other Western countries how they could support Ukraine better. This is something that the Presidium of the Baltic Assembly was working with on a regular basis.
The Parliamentary Secretary underlined that the Baltic States’ cooperation had been of great importance in shaping a strong and united European and a transatlantic response to Russia’s aggression and war launched against Ukraine. The Baltic States are closely coordinating their policy and action at the regional and international level. “Since Russia’s invasion in Ukraine, the Baltic States jointly did everything possible to support Ukraine and to put maximum diplomatic, political and economic pressure on Russia. Against the backdrop of a changed security environment, the Baltic cooperation proved invaluable and very effective. Through concrete proposals, we jointly spearheaded EU sanctions policy against Russia,” Zanda Kalniņa-Lukaševica said.
© Photos by the Saeima of the Republic of Latvia