Prime Minister Jüri Ratas (Center) met with his Polish and Baltic colleagues in Vilnius on Friday, where the four leaders discussed issues including defense and security, current EU affairs, and joint energy and transport projects.
At his meeting with Latvian Prime Minister Māris Kučinskis, Lithuanian Prime Minister Saulius Skvernelis and Poish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki, Ratas noted that the lives of the people of the Baltic States and Poland are better than ever before and their security solid, largely thanks to successful collaboration with like-minded countries, friends in the EU and NATO allies, according to a government press release.
"As in the case of [Estonia's] recent presidency of the Council of the EU, unity is important to Estonia in NATO as well," said the Estonian prime minister. "Unity is ensured by thinking not only about ourselves, but also others as well. NATO is engaged with the security of all allies. Estonia contributes to ensuring security in Lebanon, Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere."
At the same time, he continued, it is necessary to move forward with ensuring the security of the Baltic region and Poland. "We must continue our work to ensure that NATO reinforcements arrive in the Baltic states as quickly as possible, should it prove necessary," Ratas stressed.
The four heads of government also discussed current EU affairs at length.
"There are very important negotiations underway that will have a strong impact on the future of all people and areas of cooperation — Brexit, and the next multiannual [EU] budget," Ratas said. "It is in our interests that the EU's joint budget remains the same size, to the extent possible, after Brexit in order to maintain the prospect of funding the joint priorities of the EU and the Baltic states."
According to the government press release, the Baltic states have several very important joint projects lined up for the next few years which will improve people's lives, the business environment as well as security. One of these projects is the construction of Rail Baltica, the high-speed rail project that will run from Tallinn through the Latvian-Polish border, providing a high-speed transport connection between the Baltic region and the rest of Europe. Rail Baltica will also allow for the seamless transport of goods from Northern Europe to the Mediterranean region in the future.
According to Ratas, the implementation of the Rail Baltica project has already been agreed upon and approved by the Riigikogu, and the project is moving forward steadily. "If we stick to the agreements and follow the working plan, there is hope we can open the new railway to traffic in 2026," he added.
Another key joint project is the desynchronization of the Baltic electricity systems from Russia and synchronization with the rest of Europe to ensure the Baltics' energy security. "This spring, surveys will be completed, and the next steps will be discussed by early summer," Ratas said. "Work will then begin to apply fo co-financing from the EU within the current budget period already."
Editor: Aili Vahtla