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Prime Minister: Finland is among our most important partners in the region

Date

2019 03 06

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Prime Minister Saulius Skvernelis met with Prime Minister of Finland Juha Sipila to discuss the upcoming Finnish Presidency of the EU Council, bilateral relations, regional cooperation, the EU financial framework, and other relevant issues.

The Prime Minister pointed out the importance of the close cooperation in the Nordic-Baltic family. It was emphasised that Lithuania is ready to support Finland during the forthcoming EU Presidency, continue regional cooperation, particularly in transport and energy security. 

Much attention was given to the Rail Baltica project. Saulius Skvernelis welcomed Finland’s decision to join the Rail Baltica project. According to the Prime Minister, the implementation of this priority project will promote the economic and social integration of the region and open up opportunities for developing the Arctic interconnection with the Baltic States via the railway line through Finland. 

The interlocutors discussed possible Brexit scenarios. Lithuania’s priorities in the Brexit process remain unchanged: ensuring non-discrimination of our citizens living in the UK, their treatment equal to that of the citizens of other EU Member States.

It was emphasised that the most important issues for Lithuania in the multi-annual EU budget are the future financing of Cohesion and the Common Agricultural Policy. Lithuania is also raising the issue of funding the EU’s external border, which should be another important priority in terms of EU funding. The Prime Minister pointed out dissatisfaction with the tight reduction of the Cohesion Fund budget, direct payments to Lithuanian farmers are still far from the EU average.

EU’s defence capabilities were also among the items for discussion. The Prime Minister underlined that NATO was the main guarantor of security in Europe. Saulius Skvernelis welcomed Finland’s active security role in the Baltic Sea region, and thanked for its participation in the Lithuania-initiated cyber-rapid response team project. Support was expressed for the activities of the European Centre of Excellence for Countering Hybrid Threats in Helsinki. Finland was called upon to ensure a principled and united EU position towards Russia and to continue pursuing the EU’s Eastern Partnership policy.

Climate change and migration were also among the subjects for discussion. As climate change will be one of the priorities of the Finnish Presidency of the Council of the EU, Mr Skvernelis admitted that it was not as yet the most important issue for Lithuania, but some steps were taken in this regard.

On economic cooperation, they welcomed the growing volume of the bilateral trade.

Juha Sipila was invited to participate in the planned Nordic-Baltic and United Kingdom Prime Ministers’ meeting in Vilnius in autumn.