On Tuesday, 6 December, Ināra Mūrniece, Speaker of the Saeima, met with Viktoras Pranckietis, the newly elected speaker of the parliament of the Republic of Lithuania. “Lithuania has always been our closest neighbour and friend. We are close partners and allies, who maintain an active political dialogue and exchange of visits. I highly appreciate that you have chosen Latvia as destination of your first foreign visit,” said Mūrniece.
Speaker Mūrniece voiced her conviction that the cooperation between the Saeima and the Seimas will continue to flourish. The new convocation of the Lithuanian parliament has already established an interparliamentary group for cooperation with the Saeima, as well as a new delegation to the Baltic Assembly. Speaker Mūrniece underlined the role of the close and comprehensive Baltic cooperation at all levels, including international parliamentary organisations, such as the Baltic and Nordic format NB8.
Speaker Mūrniece pointed out that currently the Baltic cooperation prioritises security and defence, underlining the importance of the enhanced NATO presence in the Baltic States and Poland in response to the unpredictable actions of the Kremlin. She emphasised the efforts undertaken by Latvia in developing its defence capabilities and increasing of the defence budget up to 2% of GDP by 2018; Speaker Mūrniece also applauded the fact that Latvians are increasingly interested in joining the ranks of the National Guard and its Youth Chapter and the overall rise of patriotism.
Strengthening of the information space is an important element of security, especially now that Russia is actively using mass media in Latvia to disseminate biased information aimed at undermining trust in the state and its defence capabilities. Speaker Mūrniece underlined the necessity to do what it takes to ensure that people have access to impartial information, especially in light of the activities carried out by the Riga-based NATO Strategic Communications Centre of Excellence and the Baltic Centre for Media Excellence.
Regarding the situation in Ukraine, Speaker Mūrniece expressed her conviction that the sanctions against Russia must not be lifted before the Minsk Agreements are executed to their full extent. Both speakers expressed support for a closer integration of Ukraine with the European Union, and underlined the importance of introducing a visa-free regime.
Furthermore, both speakers agreed that energy security is the cornerstone of national security. Speaker Mūrniece emphasised the necessity to develop the regional natural gas and electric power market while diversifying supplies. Speaker Mūrniece and Speaker Pranckietis expressed support for furthering Latvian-Lithuanian cooperation in implementing joint projects, pointing out the strategic role of the railway infrastructure project Rail Baltica, and agreed that the three Baltic States must continue cooperation with the relevant European Union institutions to ensure that the co-financing in the amount of 85% is granted throughout the implementation of the project.
The Speaker of the Lithuanian parliament was accompanied by Laurynas Kasčiūnas, Member of the Committee on National Security and Defence; and Viktoras Rinkevičius, Member of the Committee on European Affairs, Member of the Committee on Budget and Finance.
The Saeima was also represented by Gundars Daudze, Deputy Speaker; Lolita Čigāne, Chair of the European Affairs Committee; Jānis Vucāns, Chair of the Budget and Finance (Taxation) Committee; Romualds Ražuks, Chair of the Group for Interparliamentary relations with Lithuania; Jānis Dombrava, Deputy Chair of the Group for Interparliamentary relations with Lithuania; and Ivans Klementjevs, Member of the Group for Interparliamentary relations with Lithuania.
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Saeima Press Service