Estonia, Latvia presidents discuss cooperation, including in recycling

President of Latvia Egils Levits together with Estonian president Kersti Kaljulaid.
President of Latvia Egils Levits together with Estonian president Kersti Kaljulaid. Source: Priit Mürk/ERR

The heads of state of Estonia and Latvia, Kersti Kaljulaid and Egils Levits, met in Tallinn on Wednesday, where topics for discussion included defense cooperation, energy, and potential recycling harmonization between the two countries.

Egils had made Estonia his first destination in an official capacity since being sworn into office on Monday. According to the Estonian president's office, the two leaders said that they stood for common values in Europe, with not only cross-border digital cooperation being worthy of further development, but also, in the physical realm, package recycling.

"I highly appreciate it that the newly appointed president of Latvia, Egils Levits, made a point of making his first foreign visit to Estonia," President Kaljulaid said of the visit and meeting.

"However, the bond between Estonia and Latvia is far from being only an emotional one. Latvia is our third biggest trade partner; we stand for the common liberal democratic values that the EU is based on. We also have a common understanding of the security situation, and we agree that all countries need to make a contribution to greater security and stability. The steps Latvia has made in recent years in increasing defense spending and making it to the 2 percent club are impressive, and wholly welcome," Kaljulaid said.

Kaljulaid added that a topical subject, that of alcohol, or more specifically beer, had also arisen, though not in regard to prices and excise duties.

"We also talked about beer," the president said.

"Not the price and the taxes, but what will be left after beer has been drunk, I.e. a can or a bottle. We have to move forward together and set up the first joint cross-border recycling system, which could be an example for all of Europe. It's great that the first specific steps in that direction have been made already. In fact, this is not just about cans or bottles. This is about the environment, the Baltic Sea, our northern hemisphere, our planet. It may look like a small step, but in the fight against environmental problems and climate crises we can move forward only when everybody does their part," she continued.

A recent 25 percent excise duty cut by the Estonian government saw Latvia responding in kind, cutting its own rate on beer by 15 percent, sparking fears of an excise war between the two countries.

Kaljulaid stressed that in addition to physical interconnections, digital interaction between the two states could be built up.

Editor: Andrew Whyte

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