M. Kučinskis and Prime Ministers of Lithuania and Estonia discuss the issues relevant for the Baltic States
On Friday 9 March, Prime Minister Māris Kučinskis met with the Lithuanian Prime Minister Saulius Skvernelis and Estonian Prime Minister Jüri Ratas in Vilnius within the framework of the Baltic Council of Ministers (BCM).
The BCM addressed the issues relating to security, energy and transport, as well as the multiannual budget of the European Union (EU) for the next period.
As regards security, M. Kučinskis stressed the need for the Baltic States to be united and continue to work together in order to strengthen defence of the three countries. He pointed out that the present military threats from Russia do not constitute immediate risk to security, which cannot be said about non-military hybrid activities. He emphasized that without counteraction, we can lose people's trust in values and prosperity of the Baltic States. Proactive action in this area is necessary.
“I call on the governments to work together with a view to formulate common narratives in order to rebut the smear campaigning against the Baltic States and promote critical thinking in our societies, "said M. Kučinskis.
Turning to energy and transport, the Prime Minister highlighted the importance of synchronizing the power grids with continental Europe. This is one of the most important tasks that the Baltic States must do - to ensure the successful desynchronization of electricity grids from the network operated by Russia and synchronization with continental Europe. In addition, the need to conduct further technical and economic research was emphasized in order to carefully assess the effects of synchronization. M.Kučinskis welcomed the fact that the operators of the Baltic and Polish transmission systems have agreed to conduct such a research, the results of which are expected in May. It will be possible then to make the final decision on the most appropriate synchronization scenario and technical execution.
“It is important for the Baltic States to agree on a regional solution to trade in electricity with the third countries," said the Prime Minister.
The Latvian side also emphasizes the need to continue work on the development of a regional gas market. The operation of the regional market requires the completion of the intended investments in the strengthening and modernization of the Baltic States' interconnections, as well as in the modernization of the Inčukalns Underground Gas Storage Facility. In addition, it is important to implement the Lithuania-Poland interconnection (GIPL) as soon as possible. This project will allow for connecting the Baltic States with the European market and provide alternative routes for the supply of natural gas.
The BCM also addressed the Rail Baltica project. The international procurement for the design of the central station and associated infrastructure in the Riga International Airport has been completed in Latvia. In March, the first Rail Baltica infrastructure design contract will be signed with the winning bidder in Latvia. Similarly, the Baltic States’ joint venture RB Rail has announced procurements for the design of the basic route in Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia. The applications, which were received in February for the qualification stage of the procurement, are indicative of the multinational entrepreneurs’ interest in the project.
M. Kučinskis also stressed the need to ensure the compliance with the principles of good governance of this project.
“We are aware that raising the effectiveness of project management is the task to be carried out already now - at the design phase of Rail Baltica. The main task is to ensure the responsible management of resources, close co-operation between the Baltic States and implementation of the project within the set deadlines. This is a joint task for all parties involved in the project," said the Prime Minister.
When discussing the EU's multiannual budget, it was pointed out that we should continue to present a common message in an effort to work towards the adoption of the new budget as soon as possible.
"The coalition of the Baltic States must be strong not only now, but also after the publication of the European Commission’s proposal and during the negotiations," said M. Kučinskis.
The Baltic Council of Ministers (BCM) is a framework for co-operation between the governments of Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia that was established on 13 June 1994. The BCM’s mission is to ensure continuity of cooperation at the executive level of the states. It is responsible for the co-operation between the governments of the Baltic States, as well as for cooperation between the governments and parliaments.
The chairmanship of the Council changes once a year, and this year Lithuania fulfils this duty.
Press Secretary to the Prime Minister