vm.ee No 131-E
At his meeting in Tallinn today [April 19] with Latvian Foreign Minister Edgars Rinkēvičs, Foreign Minister Urmas Paet said that Estonia supports Latvia joining the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and the euro zone. “We hope that Latvia will soon become a member of the euro zone. We would also like to see Latvia among the OECD member states,” Paet confirmed.
At the meeting, the foreign ministers also spoke about Estonia-Latvia bilateral co-operation. They spoke at length about economic and trade relations and regional co-operation. Latvia is Estonia’s fourth export and import partner. “Last year Estonian export to Latvia grew 15%, and Latvia is the third most important destination for investments by our entrepreneurs,” said Paet. The foreign minister added that it is also positive that good contacts among people in the two countries are becoming closer all the time. “Last year the number of Latvian tourists that visited Estonia hit a record of over 100 000,” he said.
At the meeting, Paet noted that Estonia highly values Latvia’s contribution to the work of the NATO Cyber Defence Centre. “The number of members of the centre is constantly growing. In April Iceland announced that it would also like to join,” stated the foreign minister.
When talking about regional co-operation matters, Foreign Minister Paet emphasised the importance of transport- and energy-related projects. “In order to make progress with Rail Baltic, we must keep moving forward with the project in accordance with the agreements,” he said. The goal of energy-related co-operation is to increase our energy security by increasing and diversifying the number of supply channels.
Co-operation among the local governments along the Estonia-Latvia border also functions very well. “In 2004 a commission was formed by the Estonian and Latvian ministries to improve cross-border co-operation,” Paet noted, adding that today over 60 joint co-operation projects have been approved within the framework of the Estonia-Latvia programme. “One good example is co-operation between Valga and Valka. For example, since last fall it is possible for Latvian students to study at the Valga vocational school. At the art school on the Valka side, it is possible for children from Valga to study in Estonian-language groups,” said Paet, listing examples of well-functioning practical co-operation.
The foreign minister also noted that Estonia has started making preparations for its Baltic Sea Year of 2014, when it will lead many regional co-operation formats: Baltic co-operation, Nordic-Baltic co-operation, and the Council of the Baltic Sea States. “Estonia sees potential future development of Baltic co-operation through closer communication with the Nordic countries to help create a more unified feeling in the Nordic-Baltic region. Creating this kind of synergy is one of our priorities during the Baltic Sea Year,” said Paet.
Today Paet and Rinkēvičs announced the winner of the Estonian-Latvian/Latvian-Estonian translation prize, which went to Latvian translator Maima Grīnberga. Grīnberga has already won the translation prize once before, in 2009. The foreign minister said that another important joint cultural project between the countries is the compiling of an Estonian-Latvian and Latvian-Estonian dictionary. “Work on the dictionary is being done in both Estonia and Latvia, and the dictionary will hopefully be completed in 2015,” said Paet.
During their meeting the ministers also spoke about matters related to eastern partnership as well as important international issues and security policy matters.
Paet: We Support Latvia Joining the OECD and Euro Zone