On 23-24 November 2023 in Tallinn (Estonia), parliamentarians and government representatives of the Baltic States met for the 42nd Session of the Baltic Assembly and the 29th Baltic Council met to discuss current affairs and cooperation of the Baltic States in such areas as economy and civil defence.
On 24 November, the meeting of the Presidium of the Baltic Assembly and the speakers of the national parliaments of the Baltic States took place in Riigikogu, the Parliament of Estonia. Afterwards, the 42nd Session of the Baltic Assembly began. President of the Baltic Assembly Timo Suslov declared it open by stating that “the Baltic cooperation through unity, solidarity and support is key as we remember clearly that we have achieved some of our most important goals through cooperation". He emphasized that the Baltic States have stood shoulder to shoulder when aiming to join the EU and NATO, and their joint efforts have resulted in almost 20 years in the European and transatlantic community. Due to this experience, the Baltics have been very active in supporting Ukraine and other Eastern Partnership countries. "We believe that current global challenges can be solved in larger regional formats, and we are glad to see that over the years the Baltic Assembly has proven to be an excellent format for bringing together parliamentarians from different parts of the world. Today is a clear example of that.” Timo Suslov informed.
President of the Riigikogu of Estonia Lauri Hussar followed by saying that only together the Baltic States can amplify their messages to NATO allies, confirming the dedication to their national defence and continuous support to Ukraine. Speaker of the Seimas of Lithuania Viktorija Čmilytė-Nielsen highlighted the crucial role of parliamentary coordination in order to bolster Ukraine’s defences, hold Russia accountable, impose sanctions and express support for President Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s 10-point peace plan. Deputy Speaker of the Saeima of Latvia Antoņina Ņenaševa emphasized the need to continue to lobby together with the allies to ensure Russia’s accountability through an international tribunal. Additionally, she highlighted the need to foster Baltic identity through robust cultural cooperation, for example, by advancing language diversity in border region schools.
During the Session, experts from the Baltic States informed about the economic impact of the Russian invasion of Ukraine and how the Baltic States are joining forces towards a region that is more resilient to economic and energy market pressures. The need for an effective and coherent regional civil defence through close consultations and coordination of the Baltic States was also assessed.
The 29th Baltic Council
Alongside the Session, the 29th Baltic Council, a cooperation platform for parliaments and governments, was held. President of the Baltic Assembly Timo Suslov informed the participants about the close partnership between the Baltic Assembly and the Baltic Council. He also stated that there is noticeable progress in the cooperation of the Baltic States, especially in defence, digital matters, and energy connectivity as nearly 40% of recommendations of the Baltic Assembly to the governments have been implemented, however, challenges still persist.
Chair of the Cooperation Council of the Baltic Council of Ministers and Minister of Foreign Affairs of Estonia Margus Tsahkna emphasized the importance of November 25 as it is the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women and violence against women remains one of the most prevalent and pervasive human rights violations in the world. He emphasized the significant value that the Baltic Council holds for their collaboration with the Baltic Assembly, especially in light of the transformed security situation following Russia’s full-scale aggression in Ukraine. He added that there is a need for continued joint efforts from the Baltic States to hold Russia accountable.
Lithuania is taking over the Presidency in 2024
At the end of the Session, participants were introduced to the programme for Lithuania’s Presidency of the Baltic Assembly for 2024. The motto of the Lithuanian Presidency will be “Growing strong and resilient together”. The focus will be on three priorities: 1) the Baltic region confident in its security, development, and resilience; 2) connected, innovative and sustainable Baltic States; and 3) unity, support, and consistency in facing regional challenges.
Vice President of the Baltic Assembly Andrius Kupčinskas stated: ‘’Lithuania is taking over the Presidency at a time when Europe continues to face a horrific war in Ukraine, as well as other challenges posed by the aggressors in the east of the Baltic States. Therefore, a united Baltic region that is confident in its security, development and resilience is the leading principle of the Lithuanian Presidency."
After adopting the Resolution and the Final Document of the 42nd Session, President of the Baltic Assembly Timo Suslov transferred the presidency statuette to Vice President Andrius Kupčinskas, symbolising that Lithuania will take over the presidency in the Baltic Assembly on 1 January 2024.
Photos of the Session