On 26-27 October 2023, the members of the Presidium, Chairs and Vice Chairs of the Committees of the Baltic Assembly met at the Consultative Council in Tallinn. During the meeting, the parliamentarians discussed the progress, successes and challenges of the cooperation of the Baltic States in 2023.
President Timo Suslov said that the Estonian presidency aimed to encourage Baltic cooperation through unity and solidarity under the motto “Security. Support. Sustainability”. “This motto has been especially crucial for the Baltic States as there is still an ongoing war in Europe and the democratic values we support are under threat. Therefore, over the years, the Baltic Assembly has repeatedly confirmed the strong willingness to continue building a resilient, safe, reliable, and sustainable Baltic region that is united and interconnected in addressing common challenges,” said Timo Suslov.
The President also informed about the work of the Presidium in 2023. “Due to the ongoing unjustified Russian invasion of Ukraine, support for the country during and after the Russian aggression has been a very important priority. Therefore, a lot of attention was put on the support for the Eastern Partnership countries, in particular - Ukraine. The Presidium has actively supported Ukraine, as well as carried out explanatory work on Russia and its activities. I am proud to say that during the year, we have successfully utilised the experience of the Baltic States and offered guidance to international partners, European institutions and beyond. It is important to remember that current global challenges can be solved only in larger regional formats. I think we have proven that the Baltic Assembly is an excellent example of such a format as we can bring together parliamentarians from across the world,” highlighted Timo Suslov.
Chair of the Economics, Energy, and Innovation Committee Priit Lomp said: “We must understand that if the war continues, we may see more economic damage, fragmentation of trade and investment, interruptions in supply chains, a rise in cyberattacks, and other major challenges. To deal with all of these issues better, we must work together for our common interests and take advantage of the opportunities that are provided. The focus on energy security, digital transformation and cybersecurity must remain high on the agenda.”
Vice Chair of the Education, Science and Culture Committee Vytautas Juozapaitis highlighted that there is an ongoing exchange of practices and information between the responsible institutions and other related actors in the Baltic States. “They maintain constant communication and exchange of data, as well as have come up with common solutions to challenges. We should continue coming up with such joint solutions to address the issues that were highlighted related to education, science and innovations. The exchange of experiences in such formats as the Baltic Assembly will be essential to reaching this aim,” added Vytautas Juozapaitis.
Chair of the Health, Welfare and Family Committee Karmen Joller noted that despite progress, much more investment, innovation, and partnerships are needed to tackle the problems that were assessed in 2023 by the Committee. “That is why I encourage us to continue sharing the views and best practices of the Baltic States regarding the issues related to the health and well-being of our people to find the most suitable solutions for possible improvements,” said Karmen Joller.
Vice Chair of the Security and Defence Committee Audrius Petrošius concluded: “To ensure the security and defence cooperation of the Baltic States, it is vital to agree on the outputs or the benchmarks to achieve during the next years. We must continue sharing information and agree on what each of us is willing to give each other. The need for an increase in our defence capabilities continues to be emphasized by the ongoing Russian war against Ukraine and other aggressive activities of this regime. We must continue to collaborate as security plays a key role in helping the people of our states feel safe and unified.”
Another topic discussed during the meeting was the priorities and agenda of the Baltic Assembly in 2024. Vice President Andrius Kupčinskas highlighted that Lithuania is taking over the Presidency at a time when Europe continues to face a devastating war in Ukraine and other challenges caused by the aggressors in the east of the Baltic States. “A united Baltic region that is confident in its security, development and resilience is the leading principle of the Lithuanian Presidency. That is why the motto of the Baltic Assembly will be “Growing strong and resilient together”,” explained Andrius Kupčinskas. In 2024, the main priorities of the Baltic Assembly are: 1) 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.
The Consultative Council comprises of the Presidium of the Baltic Assembly and the Chairs and Vice Chairs of the standing committees of the Baltic Assembly. The work of the Consultative Council is based on solving conceptual issues and considering all draft documents for the upcoming Session.
© Photos: Secretariat of the Baltic Assembly