Baltic Presidents Meet, Ilves Urges Persistence Ahead of Eastern Partnership ({{commentsTotal}})

Source: Photo: Toms Kalnins (Office of the Latvian President)

The presidents of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania met at the Bīriņi Palace near Riga today.

One of the main issues of discussion the was European Union's Eastern Partnership summit, scheduled to take place in Vilnius in late November.

"Estonia continues to believe that an association and free trade agreement with Ukraine needs to be signed there as do similar agreements with Moldova and Georgia," Estonian President Toomas Hendrik Ilves said a statement from his office.

"But of course, ahead of the Vilnius summit, we are waiting for Ukraine to fulfill its pledges to the European Union, for homework to be finished," Ilves said.

"As we approach the Eastern Partnership summit, all sides need to make an effort," Ilves said, adding that the EU is not forcing anything on its neighbors. "But if our neighbors choose democracy, rule of law, free trade and Europe, then the EU is a strong partner and good ally for them," he said.

He continued: "The same goes for our multilateral relations, and we unilaterally stand by Lithuania, which, as the current holder of the EU presidency and the host of the Eastern Partnership summit, has had to face pressure reminiscent of economic sanctions. Such pressure is not acceptable."

The Baltic presidents - Ilves, Andris Bērziņš and Dalia Grybauskaitė - also discussed Latvia's accession to the Eurozone at the start of next year, and the Eurogroup president, Jeroen Dijsselbloem, was also present at the meeting.

Ilves also called attention to Rail Baltic, saying progress on the project has been too slow.