Latvia And Lithuania Are More Than Just Neighbors

Courtesy of The Baltic Course
December 1, 2014

During a meeting on November 28th in Vilnius with Lithuanian Parliamentary Speaker Loreta Grauziniene, new Saeima Speaker Inara Murniece (All for Latvia!-For Fatherland and Freedom/LNNK) said that Latvia and Lithuania are more than just neighbors, as the fates of the people of both countries run centuries deep and are united by kindred languages and sincere relations between the people of both countries, LETA was informed by the Saeima’s press service.

‘Furthermore, Latvia and Lithuania celebrate their historical bond each year on Balts Unity Day,’ Murniece said.

During her meeting with Grauziniene, Murniece accented that 2015 will be an important year for both countries, as Latvia will preside over the EU, while Lithuania will be joining the eurozone. ‘The introduction of the euro in Lithuania will also liquidate the currency barried between Latvia and Lithuania, and will benefit the economies of both countries,’ Murniece said, adding that Lithuania is already Latvia’s largest export and import partner. ‘With all three Baltic countries being eurozone member, the region will become only more attractive to investors.’

In regard to Latvia’s upcoming EU presidency, Murniece thanked Lithuania for its active support in sharing its experience while presiding over the EU in 2013, and hoped that the Lithuanian parliamentary speaker will attend the ceremonies when Latvia will take over the rotating presidency.

Both side also emphasized the importance of regional energy infrastructure projects, as well as the planned Rail Baltica high-speed rail line, which give the people of the Baltics new opportunities to reach destinations throughout Europe by rail. ‘Common energy and transportation infrastructure projects are very important in the current geo-political situation, as they are also important security elements. We must make all efforts to be included in the European energy and transportation network,’ Murniece emphasized.

Speaking about regional security matters, Murniece emphasized that the security environment has substantially changed and that the Baltic must adapt to the new reality. She said that Latvia is committed to strengthening its defensive capabilities by investing more in defense, and will increase defense spending to two percent of GDP by 2020.

Murniece said that another current challenge is the fact that the Baltics are in the influence of Russia’s information space. In this context, the Saeima speaker thanked Lithuania for serving as one of the founders of the NATO Strategic Communications Center of Excellence in Riga.

The Saeima speaker also praised Lithuania’s pro-active stance in involving itself in finding a solution to the crisis in Ukraine. She emphasized that the EU must have a unified and clear stance on this matter, and must refrain from steps which could be interpreted as mutual differences.

Also during the meeting, Murniece informed the Lithuanian president about Latvia’s preparedness for its upcoming EU presidency, and emphasized that Latvia has the excellent opportunity of learning from Lithuania’s recent presidency in 2013.

Meanwhile, Grybauskaite said that Lithuania is ready to share its experience of presiding over the EU with Latvia during its upcoming presidency, and confirmed that Lithuania will completely support Latvia’s program. At the same time, she emphasized that Europe sees that Baltics as one region, thus the Latvian presidency will promote the whole region.

During her visit to the Lithuanian parliament, Murniece also met with Lithuanian MPs.