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A joint sitting of the Lithuanian and Latvian Cabinets in Rokiškis

Date

2015 09 18

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On Friday, on the eve of the Baltic Unity Day, a joint sitting of the Lithuanian and Latvian Cabinets was held in Rokiškis. The Cabinets have discussed areas to strengthen bilateral cooperation in the fields of strategic importance. Prime Minister of Lithuania Algirdas Butkevičius and Prime Minister of Latvia Laimdota Straujuma have chaired the sitting.  

It has been noted in the sitting that close and multifaceted relations unite both countries: successful practical cooperation takes place among sectorial ministries; the two countries share interests in the Baltic Sea region, and maintain strong partnership in the European Union and NATO.  

“The neighbouring countries have expressed their confidence in the common position on the development of international relations and the situation of regional security. Therefore, in the context of the current geopolitical situation, it is necessary to work more actively to promote development of relations in the regional energy and transport, including implementation of infrastructure projects and cross-border cooperation”, said Prime Minister Butkevičius.    

To achieve higher prosperity of frontier citizens, both countries have agreed to continue the work of the Lithuanian and Latvian intergovernmental commission on cross-border cooperation, which has been recognized as substantial and efficient format in dealing with concrete practical cooperation matters of importance to frontier citizens. The countries have agreed to convene, as early as possible, another meeting of the intergovernmental commission on cross-border cooperation.   

A managing institution of the 2007–2013 programme for the Lithuanian and Latvian cross-border cooperation has presented information to the participants of the sitting on the programme and its projects that had been completed in the field of promotion of cross-border regions development. Information has also been presented on the 2014–2020 programme for the Lithuanian and Latvian cross-border cooperation, which will allocate financing for projects on environmental protection, preservation of cultural heritage, promotion of employment and social integration, and improvement of public services.         

The two Cabinets have expressed strong determination to continue the work on the Rail Baltica railway line project implementation, as well as to promote the Baltic States integration into the EU transport network by diversifying transport flows in the north-south axis.   

On the need to strengthen energy security, it has been agreed to continue implementation of priority energy projects, such as improvement of power interconnections, synchronization of the electricity networks with the grid of the Continental Europe, and creation of the common Baltic regional gas market. In the process of creation of the common Baltic regional gas market, it will be aimed at efficient use of the existing infrastructure (Inčukalns underground gas storage facility and Klaipėda liquefied natural gas terminal), development of new gas interconnections (Klaipėda–Kiemėnai, GIPL, Balticconnector) and strengthening of legal regulation that would eliminate barriers for inter-Baltic trade in gas.       

During the meeting, the Latvian side has informed its Lithuanian colleagues about the process of accession to the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). Lithuania has started the process this year as well. The two countries have agreed to continue cooperation and share the accession process experience.  

The joint sitting has discussed topical matters of the EU agenda related to migration, climate change, security policy, and strategic communication. It has been agreed to continue coordination of positions thereon. On migration, it has been recognized that currently the EU and its member states face unparalleled flows of asylum seekers. The countries have expressed solidarity with the most affected member states as well as support to those asylum seekers that are truly in need of international protection. The countries have stressed the significance of comprehensive and geographically balanced management of migration, and were unanimous on the need to focus on the root causes of illegal migration, strengthening of the EU’s external borders, efficient return policy, and consolidation of cooperation with the third countries, with special attention to the main countries of origin and transit.

Lithuania and Latvia have also exchanged their opinions on the ways to use strategic communication more efficiently, and have stressed the importance of cooperation between the EU and NATO. Here, the EU’s Action Plan on Strategic Communication and NATO Strategic Communications Centre of Excellence in Riga play an important role. Lithuania and Latvia have also agreed to take note of recommendations by the European Endowment for Democracy, on strengthening media independence and quality in the region.           

The countries have paid special attention to cooperation in the field of security and defence, and joint response to the military, information, and other security challenges arising due to Russia’s policy. The countries have agreed to work together while implementing NATO’s Readiness Action Plan by the NATO Summit in Warsaw in 2016, and to seek stability in the EU’s Eastern Neighbourhood Region as well as further development of the EU Neighbourhood Policy, by supporting the partners’ free determination and their European and Euro-Atlantic integration aspirations. The Governments of the two countries will continue to work responsibly while pursuing the Eastern Neighbourhood Policy and on the basis of decisions taken at the Riga Summit.            

The countries have agreed to further strengthen identity of the two Baltic nations, Latvians and Lithuanians, to cooperate to foster and promote the Baltic cultural heritage, to protect the common historic memory, and, together with public partners, to continue commemoration of the Baltic Unity Day.    

The countries have committed to cooperate closely in preparation of the commemoration of the centenaries of restoration of the State of Lithuania and foundation of the State of Latvia, which the two countries will pursue throughout the period of five years, also, while seeking to strengthen cultural and historical relations between the two countries. The centenary celebrations offer new opportunities to turn the European and global attention to the Baltic countries, and to highlight their integration in Europe and adherence to its values. It is planned to implement joint Baltic projects; for example, to participate in London Book Fair, as honorary guests, in 2018, and to exchange films made especially for the centenary celebration, as well as to look for new prospects for cooperation in the fields of environment, tourism, and economy.       

The Lithuanian and Latvian Cabinet sittings are held in compliance with a recommendation of a 2011 Report on Prospects for Lithuanian-Latvian Cooperation. The Report is among the documents promoting cooperation between the two countries in various aspects.