The Riga Conference 2010, Presidents discussion: Baltic Sea Region after Crises: What Next?

From the 10th of September to the 11th of September, 2010, Riga, the capital of Latvia, hosts one of the leading security forums in Northern Europe – the Riga Conference. The conference aims to kick-off high level international discussions on foreign and security policy issues before entering the intensive policy making season in the fall of 2010. The conference has become the most significant gathering of some of the most respected world thinkers, academics, commentators, journalists, and politicians, providing a platform for a broad intellectual exchange on the current Transatlantic agenda.

The second discussion of the Riga Conference 2010 included President of the Republic of Latvia Valdis Zatlers, the President of the Republic of Poland Bronis?aw Komorowski, the President of the Republic of Lithuania Dalia Grybauskaite and the president of the Republic of Estonia Toomas Hendrik Ilves for in-depth discussion “Baltic Sea Region after Crises: What Next?”, moderated by the chairman of the Board of the Latvian Transatlantic Organization Toms Baumanis. The discussion crystallized the different evaluation of economic crisis and its effect on the economies of the Baltic states and Poland represented in the panel by the presidents. While presidents of Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia agreed that the financial crisis is still an issue in their countries the optimism rate regarding the outcomes and effects yet to be expected differed across the speakers.

The president of Latvia Valdis Zatlers said that Latvia was in a desperate situation, but with the help of the EU, common action and long-term planning Latvia is steadily going out of the crisis. Furthermore, Valdis Zatlers is sure that this direction will not change also after the parliamentary elections in Latvia. The president of Lithuania Dalia Grybauskaite added that the crisis has highlighted the weaknesses of each country and provoking some needed reforms. According to President Dalia Grybauskaite the financial crisis made everybody to think more creative. The president of Estonia noted that though the financial crisis has affected Estonia quite dramatically, Latvia and Lithuania suffered greater degree of crisis. All the presidents agreed that the Baltic Sea region has to act as a region to be successful.

One of top issues during the discussion was the energy market. The presidents pointed out that the Baltic Sea region countries are producing energy also for export, and yet the importance of Russia in this market is huge. The Riga Conference 2010 is organized by the Latvian Transatlantic Organisation (LATO) in cooperation with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Latvia and the Ministry of Defence of Latvia as well as supported by the German Marshall Fund of the United States, NATO, Soros Foundation – Latvia, Konrad Adenauer Stiftung, Friedrich Ebert Stiftung, European Commission Representation in Latvia and the Embassy of the United States in Riga, Informative support is ensured by LETA, DELFI un Latvijas Av?ze.