Maria Böhmer, Minister of State at the Federal Foreign Office, together with Alois Karl, Chairman of the Parliamentary Friendship Group for Relations with the Baltic States, hosted a dinner at Villa Borsig. The guests included the Parliamentary Friendship Group for Relations with the Baltic States at the Bundestag, Estonian Minister of Foreign Affairs Sven Mikser and representatives of the Baltic states.
In her welcome speech, Minister of State Böhmer acknowledged the good and close relations between Germany and the three Baltic states Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania. She said that the three states enjoyed close ties with Germany at political, economic and cultural level, and that German was one of the most popular foreign languages in the Baltic region, particularly among young people. She pointed out that the three Baltic states had managed to embrace their regained independence in 1991 as an opportunity, overcome challenges and emerge stronger from the economic and social upheavals of the 1990s.
Important partners for Germany in the EU
The Minister of State also emphasised the central role that Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania played as important partners for Germany in Europe and the European Union.
The Baltic states are an integral part of Europe. Their citizens know that their future lies in the EU. Relations between Germany and the Baltic states are a role model for the kind of cooperation and cohesion that we are striving for throughout the EU. We are counting on the Baltic states when it comes to shaping the future of Europe.
In his words of thanks, Estonian Minister of Foreign Affairs Sven Mikser stressed that cooperation was very successful and close because the values and interests of the Baltic states and Germany were compatible. He said that he was grateful for the good relations and expressed the hope that in future Germany would take a stronger lead on European and security policy issues.
Chairman Alois Karl then provided an overview of the legislative term and the activities of the Parliamentary Friendship Group. He pointed out that the group can look back on more than 50 events in the current legislative term, including many high-ranking visits. According to Karl, the highlights were two visits by delegations to the Baltic region and two exchange visits from Baltic delegations at the invitation of the group.
The cross-party Parliamentary Friendship Group for Relations with the Baltic States is one of the largest parliamentary friendship groups in the Bundestag. It was founded in 1992, just a few months after Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania gained their independence. On 1 May 2004 the Baltic states joined the EU and NATO. The euro is valid legal tender in all three Baltic states.