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President of the Riigikogu (Parliament of Estonia) Eiki Nestor said in Vilnius at the opening of the 37th Session of the Baltic Assembly (BA) that cooperation with countries that shared our values was the strongest guarantee for increasing our welfare and for the survival of our nations.

Nestor recalled that the Baltic States had become members of NATO and the European Union over 14 years ago. “Our people believed then – and still believe today – that cooperation with countries that share our values is the surest way to ensure our increased well-being and the future existence of our nations,” Nestor said.

Nestor referred to the Eurobarometer survey published last week, which showed that the support for the EU among the Europeans is at the highest point of the last 25 years. “In studies like this, the Baltic states have traditionally demonstrated a particular trust in the united Europe,” Nestor said, and pointed out as an example that among the Estonians, support for the EU is as high as 88 %.

Speaking of security, Nestor said that the less predictable and peaceful the world was, the more threats there were for small countries like the Baltic States. “NATO as a military political union of nations that unites 29 member states is and will remain the corner stone of our security,” he assured, and noted that the dedication of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania to the Alliance was shown, among others things, by the fact that all Baltic States contributed at least 2% of their GDP to defence spending.

Nestor thinks that one facet of the security of the Baltic States is the total integration of the energy infrastructure of the Baltic States with the rest of Europe, and creating of contemporary and fast transport connections. Information war and dangers in the cyber space also deserve more attention in the agenda of the Assembly in Nestor’s opinion. “I highly value the initiative of the Baltic Assembly to discuss the common Baltic information space. It is crucial to find solutions to prevent the abuse of our openness and freedom of expression by countries or forces trying to erode our unity by spreading false information and populist messages,” Nestor said.

Nestor called on everybody to overlook the populist messages meant for releasing lower instincts, and to counter them by raising their standards instead. “We must explain the importance of democracy, personal freedoms, solidarity, and the open world much more actively and better,” he said. “At the same time, we must work towards making all the members of our society aware of the benefits of the open world and their importance.”

Nestor thanked everybody for their contribution to the Baltic cooperation, and wished them success and strength for the future.

The Baltic Assembly is an international organisation that promotes cooperation between the Estonian, Latvian and Lithuanian parliaments. It was founded on 8 November 1991 in Tallinn. Latvia will be the next holder of the Presidency of the BA, and the next session will take place on 28–29 November 2019 in Riga.

Riigikogu Press Service
Epp-Mare Kukemelk
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