The President of the Riigikogu Ene Ergma made an official two-day visit to Washington, the USA. The visit took place within the framework of cooperation between the Speakers of the Baltic and Nordic Parliaments (NB8). On Thursday night, a meeting was held with Ms Nancy Pelosi, the Speaker of the United States House of Representatives, Howard Berman, the Chairman of the Committee on Foreign Affairs, and higher officials of the Department of State. The issues discussed during the meetings included the new strategic conception of NATO, Afghanistan, economic and environmental cooperation, Eastern Partnership of the European Union and relations with Russia. Cooperation at the parliamentary level was equally on the agenda.
According to the President of the Riigikogu Ene Ergma, the meetings having taken place in Washington were useful and interesting and gave a new impulse to the cooperation between the countries. Speaking about the new security threats, Ergma raised the issue of cyber defence and stressed the necessity of regulating the sphere at an international level.
Further to the meeting, a joint press statement was made, in which the Speakers of the Parliaments drew attention to the fact that the political cooperation and economic integration of Nordic and the three Baltic states is permanently increasing, and this renders the region in question unique. The statement equally points out that the transatlantic ties and cooperation constitute a long-standing priority for the NB8 countries. Therefore, the Speakers emphasised the necessity of reviewing the possibility of strengthening and developing the cooperation between the Nordic, Baltic countries and the USA. The Speakers expressed the wish to tighten the cooperation between the legislative bodies of the USA and the NB8 countries and to investigate into the possibility of, for instance, organising regular meetings between the Chairs of the Foreign Affairs Committees.
The statement equally claims that the NB8 states take full account of the global security situation and agenda and recognise that NATO is a central actor for the security of the European Union and an important forum for transatlantic dialogue and cooperation.
All the Nordic and Baltic countries are actively engaged in Afghanistan and contribute within the framework of ISAF. The statement indicates that the participation builds on common values such as promoting democracy, human rights, gender equality and the rule of law principles. The involvement of NATO in Afghanistan, under UN mandate, has highlighted the importance of a comprehensive approach to security. A stress is placed on the fact that the parliamentarians play a crucial role in securing public support for our common values and missions in such work.
In the joint statement, the Speakers expressed their support for the EU Eastern Partnership, recognising the need of paying a greater attention to the region, tightening the political dialogue, and expanding both political and technical assistance aimed at fostering political, economic and social reforms.
In terms of Russia, the conclusion is made that the relations should be further developed by seeking cooperation and common opportunities, while simultaneously adhering to our principles and democratic values.
The Speakers equally welcome the growing recognition of the geopolitical and strategic importance of the Arctic region and its significance for the global climate and environment. Support is also given to a further cooperation between the countries.
The Parliaments of Estonia, Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Latvia, Lithuania, Norway and Sweden have been developing their relations at the level of Speakers and Committees for over ten years.
The first joint visit of the Speakers of NB8 Parliaments to Washington took place in 2004. The following years saw joint visits to Ukraine in 2005 and to Georgia in 2007.
The Riigikogu Press Service