Welcome address by Viktoras Pranckietis, Speaker of the Seimas, at the 37th Session of the Baltic Assembly
Dear colleague Speakers, President of the Baltic Assembly,
distinguished Ministers, Ladies and Gentlemen,
It is a pleasure for me to welcome you to the Seimas of the Republic of Lithuania. Today we have met for the 37th session of the Baltic Assembly already. The long, successfully developing activities of the Baltic Assembly is an example of how the three countries create a special relationship, work together and shape their common future.
This year is a very important year for all of us. All the three states have marked Centenaries of their independence. Today, just like 100 years ago, the unity of the Baltic States is apparent. The visit of the Holy Father, Pope Francis, also was testimony to our countries’ unity. Our success has always depended on our solidarity. By saying ‘us’, we have always had in mind the three Baltic sisters, and there should be no ‘big brother’ among them.
The awareness that together we can do more gives us strength when working on our joint projects and seeking our strategic goals. Many times have we been sitting at the negotiating table, sometimes feeling envious of our neighbours’ success, faster progress or greater economic achievements. However, we are conscious of the fact that it is only through a common political position that we can contribute to strengthening the stability of the Baltic region. Nobody will be able to break people united by common goals. It is therefore essential today that we continue our joint initiatives, look for new ones, and demonstrate our strength to the whole world.
Even with the continuously changing world we can see that the goals we have chosen have proved to be correct and that our strategic agreements are in line with our expectations. This is something we can take pleasure in.
The tight agenda of the Session of the Baltic Assembly focuses on the most relevant matters: security and defence, the regional common gas and electricity market, alcohol control policy, development of the Rail Baltica project, and cooperation in the fields of education, culture and healthcare.
This year, we have succeeded in signing three major agreements. One of them was the Agreement on the Automatic Academic Recognition of Qualifications Concerning Higher Education signed by the Baltic States on 28 June. This means that higher education qualifications awarded in one country will be treated in the same manner in other Baltic States without further formalities. I believe that this step will increase labour mobility and the openness of higher education systems.
The Agreement on the Establishment of the Baltic Culture Fund was signed in Riga on 8 July 2018. We hope that the Lithuanian, Estonian and Latvian Governments will provide the necessary support to this Fund and that the Fund will start its activities from next year onwards. This will encourage the development of our common cultural projects.
The Agreement between the Government of the Republic of Lithuania and the Government of the Republic of Latvia on the Cross-border Cooperation in the Provision of Ambulance Services in the Border Area between Lithuania and Latvia signed in Bauska is also significant. The immediate availability of emergency health care for people in the border area will now be improved, and citizens of both countries can expect timely health care services. This will help to save more lives.
The success of cooperation depends on our trust in each other, as well as on the fulfilment of obligations and full involvement in our joint activities. We need to be united, because only by acting together we will ensure the security and development of our region.
We need to give a timely, unanimous and resolute response to cyber, hybrid and nuclear threats. Harmonisation of common policies, establishment of new partnerships, representation of shared interests, experience sharing, and coordination between our national parliaments and governments are among the most important tasks of the Baltic Assembly.
It is only through a close consensus of the Baltic States that we can ensure the political and economic strength of our region. By working together, we can speak out loud in a determined manner and be heard better.
Let us join hands and stay united, just like we were 100 years ago, when we proclaimed and created the independence of our countries and let our voice spread resolutely all across the globe.
Eglė Saulė Trembo