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President of the Riigikogu Jüri Ratas met with the Speaker of the Parliament of Finland Matti Vanhanen who is on a working visit to Tallinn.

The meeting focused on interparliamentary cooperation and opportunities for enhancing this in the new economic and security situation. The two speakers discussed cooperation both within the European Union and NATO, with the member states of the latter currently in the process of ratifying the accession of Finland and Sweden. The agenda also included the environmental protection of the Baltic Sea. Ratas and Vanhanen agreed on the need to intensify cooperation between countries to protect the Baltic Sea.

Ratas and Vanhanen then opened together a discussion panel on the challenges and protection of the Baltic Sea on the occasion of the Baltic Sea Day in Port Noblessner.

In his opening address, Ratas described the Baltic Sea as a beautiful and unique sea by virtue of its extraordinary ecosystem and the surrounding landscape. It is also one of the youngest seas on our planet and joins together nine countries. However, its geographical, oceanographical, and climatological peculiarities also make it exceedingly fragile. The Baltic Sea, being extremely susceptible to the impact of human activities, is among the most polluted seas in the world.

“There is no doubt that the Baltic Sea is our shared joy and common concern. Today we are facing a stormy sea. There are serious risks and challenges on the horizon,” Ratas acknowledged.

He listed agriculture, industry, and shipping and maritime transport as the economic sectors that exert the greatest impact on the Baltic Sea. “Although these are important sectors for our economy and the quality of life of our people, we must not turn a blind eye to the environmental problems these bring along,” Ratas stressed. He added that it was now the right time to move forward and put our heads together to devise joint actions for the benefit of the Baltic Sea. “Water knows no country borders – the consequences of every country’s actions will reverberate throughout the whole region,” he said.

Ratas highlighted the fact that a lot of valuable work has already been done to prevent pollution and protect the Baltic Sea, and to improve its condition. The current action plan includes nearly 200 agreed activities that require cooperation in the Baltic Sea region; the application of these in the near future should considerably improve the environmental condition of the Baltic Sea by 2030.

“The ever increasing traffic on the Baltic Sea is a growing problem. We are concerned about the situation on the Gulf of Finland where a large number of ships, including tankers, are anchored in Estonia’s economic zone, waiting for entry into Russian ports. The concern is mostly linked to maritime security because a large number of ships in a small area massively increases the risk of accidents. And yet the effects of the pollution would remain to be dealt with by Estonia and Finland. We are ready to take the necessary steps in cooperation with Finland on the international level to reduce the pressure on the Gulf of Finland,” Ratas declared.

“Cooperation, green mindset, and state-of-the art solutions are the key words. The Baltic Sea has been here long before us and will remain here after we are gone,” Ratas said. He emphasised that jeopardising the wellbeing of the Sea was a crime both against the present and the future generations.

“By changing our habits and making green choices we can contribute to the protection and improvement of the marine environment,” Ratas said.

This morning, the President of the Riigikogu and the Speaker of the Parliament of Finland also visited the Memorial to the Victims of Communism at Maarjamäe and laid flowers at the foot of the monument.

Photos (Author: Erik Peinar, Riigikogu).

Riigikogu Press Service
Gunnar Paal
+372 631 6351, +372 5190 2837
[email protected]
Questions: [email protected]