President Kaljulaid stresses benefits of Estonian-Latvian cooperation

Presidents Kersti Kaljulaid and Egils Levits at Thursday's meeting in Kuressaare. Source: President's Office

President Kersti Kaljulaid has noted various ways in which Estonia and Latvia have, can or should cooperate, ranging from tackling the coronavirus pandemic and subsequently lifting restrictions, to digital progress to security issues and Rail Baltic. The president officially met her Latvian counterpart, Egils Levits, in Kuressaare, Saaremaa's capital, on Thursday.

"Cooperation remains the most important cornerstone in tackling any complex crisis. The cooperation between our countries these past few months has proven truly fruitful, in bringing our people back home, in information exchange and in coordinating actions," Kersti Kaljulaid said of the Saaremaa summit.

"Both Estonia and Latvia are small economies dependent on a wider economical wave. Joint efforts are needed to focus on facilitating the recovery of our economies and societies," she went on, according to a president's office press release.

The Estonian president also noted that taking advantage of the EU's recovery plan issued in response to the pandemic could also be used to continue both countries' digital transformations.

"One of the lessons of the pandemic is that we need to continue our efforts to create a joint EU-wide e-identification system, which would allow us to offer joint e-services," she said.

President Kaljulaid also said the meeting proved the so-called Baltic Bubble, referring to the joint lifting of travel restrictions between the Baltic States ahead of those with external nations, worked, and expressed a hope that tourists from both countries would take advantage of this to visit each other.

The crisis had not changed anything regarding Estonia and Latvia's security position, she went on.

"Russia's rhetoric and actions still do not coincide. We continue to condemn all attempts to use history as a propaganda weapon. The Baltic states were occupied by force 80 years ago, and this was also illegal by the standards of international law back in 1940."

The Estonian president also stressed the importance of cooperation on the planned high-speed Rail Baltic link.

Lithuania's president, Gitanas Nausėda, was also due to attend the meeting, which has been an annual tradition since 1991 and hosted on a rotational basis by all three Baltic States, but his office announced at the eleventh hour that he would not be attending, citing internal issues in Lithuania.

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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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