Foreign Ministers Of The Baltic States And Germany Discussed Important Issues Of The Eu And Regional Cooperation

On 15 May in Palanga, Lithuania’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Vygaudas Ušackas took part in the 11th annual Foreign Ministers meeting of the Baltic States and Germany.

During the meeting, heads of diplomacy of Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia and Germany - Vygaudas Ušackas, Maris Riekstins, Urmas Paet and Frank-Walter Steinmeier - discussed issues of energy security, possibilities of the Baltic States in the nearest years to introduce euro, the upcoming Lithuanian EU Presidency, relations with Russia and the EU Eastern Partnership initiative.

In the opinion of Minister V.Ušackas, Germany could be the closest advisor to the Baltic States on political and technical issues of euro introduction.

While discussing the upcoming Lithuanian EU Presidency in 2013, Germany suggested consulting Lithuania about the preparation for the Presidency, training of civil servants and other issues.

Speaking about the issues of energy security, Lithuania’s Minister of Foreign Affairs stressed the importance of Germany’s support to Lithuania and other Baltic States aiming at provision of alternative energy sources. According to Minister V.Ušackas, one of the most important goals in the area of energy security is to join gas and energy transportation links of the Baltic States and Western European countries.

“The Lithuanian-Polish gas pipe link would allow for creating alternative gas provision link via Germany, Denmark and Norway in the future and would increase the energy security of the Baltic States,” said V.Ušackas.

The Ministers also discussed the EU Baltic Sea strategy under preparation and the plan of the Baltic energy links. Minister V.Ušackas presented the key priorities of the Lithuanian chairmanship over the Council of the Baltic Sea States.

While discussing relations with Russia, the Ministers spoke up for the development of constructive relations that would be based on European values. The Ministers agreed to include Kaliningrad while implementing EU initiatives in the Baltic Sea region, especially in the areas of free movement of people, enhancement of business environment, cooperation of legal institutions and environment protection.

“Lithuania will actively cooperate with Germany and Poland, and will strive to create a visa-free regime zone in the Kaliningrad Region. Issues of the Kaliningrad Region should be important in the EU-Russia negotiations on a new EU-Russia agreement,” said Minister V.Ušackas.

The Ministers agreed to seek to have the EU-Ukraine Association Agreement signed this year already and to make concrete steps toward the facilitation of visa regime for residents of Belarus and the Kaliningrad Region.

In Palanga, Lithuanian and German Ministers of Foreign Affairs signed a governmental agreement on the recognition of equivalence of high education qualifications and degrees. The agreement sets forth that Germany and Lithuania recognises each others higher education institutions and the Bachelor, Masters and Doctoral degrees that are obtained at them. This agreement will allow for students of both countries to continue their higher education studies without limitations in Lithuania and Germany.

Next year it is intended to organise this Foreign Ministers meeting of the Baltic States and Germany in Estonia.