The representatives and the Speakers of the Baltic parliaments, and the Ministers of Foreign Affairs of the Baltic States came together in Tallinn, in the Parliament of Estonia the Riigikogu, for the 42nd Session of the Baltic Assembly and the 29th Baltic Council.
President of the Baltic Assembly (BA) Timo Suslov declared the Session open and asked everybody to rise for a moment of silence for long-time Head of the Estonian Delegation to the BA and President of the BA Aadu Must, who passed away this year.
President of the Riigikogu Lauri Hussar stated in his opening speech that since Russia’s act of aggression, the Baltic States have distinguished themselves in the field of security, and have cooperated more closely than ever before. As a result of this tireless persuasion, the twelfth package of sanctions against Russia is currently being prepared at the EU level, NATO’s policy towards Russia has changed, Russia has been expelled from the Council of Europe and voted out of the UN Human Rights Council. “In cooperation with other supporters of Ukraine, we must continue with isolating the aggressor state internationally and keep working to hold Russia accountable for all the crimes committed in Ukraine,” he said.
“With this in mind, a Bill initiated by the Government of the Republic of Estonia is in the legislative proceedings of the Riigikogu that will create for Estonia, and as a precedent, also for Europe, a legal mechanism to use Russia’s assets frozen under international sanctions to compensate the war damages caused to Ukraine. We have called for establishing such a mechanism in the EU for a long time, but now we are ready to lead the way for Europe and the wider world with our actions,” Hussar said. “Our contribution to the national, regional and allied security starts with the conscious responsibility of each individual in developing and protecting democracy and the rule of law. We need the contribution of every single person because by thinking and acting together we will achieve better results.“
At the opening of the Session, Deputy Speaker of the Saeima (Parliament) of Latvia Antoņina Ņenaševa and Speaker of the Seimas (Parliament) of Lithuania Viktorija Čmilytė-Nielsen also delivered speeches. President of the BA Timo Suslov gave an overview of Estonia’s year of presidency of the Baltic Assembly.
“The year of the Estonian presidency of the BA has been marked by the continuation of building a resilient, secure, reliable and sustainable Baltic region. This is especially important as there is a war going on in Europe. On the one hand, Russia’s war in Ukraine made the Baltic States reassess their security and encouraged us to patch up the gaps in the security capabilities of our countries. At the same time, the Baltic States must remain united and unwaveringly strong in their support for Ukraine and work to expose the true face of Russia,” Suslov underlined. “We warned time and again about Russia, but unfortunately no one believed us. Now, seeing that the parties are getting tired and priorities are changing, we, the Baltic parliamentarians, must continue this important work with determination and consistently.”
Suslov added that such organisations of parliamentary cooperation like the Baltic Assembly were of help in resolving global crises and he was happy to note that over the years, the Baltic Assembly had proven to be an excellent way to bring together parliamentarians from different parts of the world.
The BA Session is chaired by President of the Baltic Assembly Timo Suslov and Vice Presidents of the BA Andrius Kupčinskas and Jānis Vucāns.
The 29th meeting of the Baltic Council, the cooperation assembly of the Governments and the parliaments of the Baltic States, also takes place today. The sitting of the Baltic Council is chaired by Chairman of the Co-operation Council of the Baltic Council of Ministers, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Estonia Margus Tsahkna and President of the Baltic Assembly Timo Suslov. Ministers of Foreign Affairs of Lithuania Gabrielius Landsbergis and Latvia Krišjānis Kariņš will deliver speeches.
At 1 p.m., a press conference will be held in the White Hall of the Riigikogu, where it will be possible to pose questions to the heads of delegations and the foreign ministers of the Baltic States. Immediately before the press conference, the President of the BA and Chair of the Baltic Council of Ministers will sign the Joint Statement of the Baltic Assembly and the Baltic Council of Ministers.
The BA session will continue in the afternoon. At the afternoon session, the impacts of Russia’s aggression against Ukraine on economy as well as effective civil defence will be discussed. At the end of the Session, new President of the BA will be elected, the final documents of the Baltic Assembly will be signed and Estonia will pass the presidency of the Baltic Assembly on to Lithuania.
The Baltic Assembly (Interparliamentary Assembly of the Republic of Estonia, the Republic of Latvia and the Republic of Lithuania) is a consultative cooperation organisation of the parliaments of the three Baltic States which discusses issues of mutual interest. The Head of the Estonian delegation to the BA is Timo Suslov, the Deputy Head is Enn Eesmaa. The members of the delegation are Arvo Aller, Karmen Joller, Meelis Kiili, Lauri Laats, Priit Lomp, Tiit Maran, Helir-Valdor Seeder, Riina Solman, Margit Sutrop and Peeter Tali.
Photos of the opening of the Session. (Erik Peinar. The photos will be uploaded with a delay.)