Video: Estonian, Latvian presidents give joint press conference

President Kersti Kaljulaid and President of Latvia Egils Levits gave a joint press conference in English in Kuressaare, capital of Saaremaa, Thursday.

The Latvian president was on an official visit for a summit which was originally supposed to include Lithuanian President Gitanas Nauseda, who backed out of the trip at the eleventh hour due to a lack of agreement between the three countries on how to proceed on electricity grid synchronization with the rest of the European Union.

Nauseda's adviser Kristina Karnickaite, told ERR on Thursday as the governments across all three states had not reached a joint agreement on electricity trade regarding third countries, a summit would need to wait until after that had been accomplished.

The video of the press conference, in English, is above, the main points are summarized below.

Key discussion points:

  • U.S. troops possible redeployment to Poland: Following news that U.S. President Donald Trump is likely to halve the country's military presence in Germany (from the current 47,000) and the possibility that several thousand personnel may be deployed to neighboring Poland, Kersti Kaljulaid said that the presence of U.S. troops is important for all three Baltic States and the possible transfer should be looked at more broadly.
  • Energy synchronization and Russia, Belarus: Lithuanian president Gitanas Nauseda was also due at the meeting, an annual tradition for all three Baltic heads of state, but canceled at the last minute, citing internal matters at home.
  • Lithuania opposes the development of a nuclear power plant in Astravets, Belarus, just a few kilometers from the border with Lithuania.
  • Kersti Kaljulaid noted that when the Baltic States synchronize their networks with continental Europe by or in 2025, Russian electricity imports would then be impossible – an issue which also affects Finland as an importer of Russian electricity she said.
  • In any case networks are in need of modernization, and the Russian grid is very dated, the Estonian president said, adding that EU support would be relevant here and would also help reduce electricity prices.
  • The same principle applies to Belarusian electricity. The period until then however is causing issues. Cheaper Russian and Belarusian electricity has been finding its way into the Nordpool  European power exchange.
  • Egils Levits added that negotiations were under way on how to act jointly, before synchronization with the continental European routes, and that security was of the utmost importance. He did not say how Latvia would proceed in the meantime, however.

Other points included the success of the Baltic Bubble in exiting the coronavirus pandemic and its accompanying emergency situations, and possible ferry connections between Latvia and the Estonian islands.


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Editor: Andrew Whyte, Katriin Eikin Sein

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