The Ministers of Foreign Affairs of Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Germany gathered today for their annual “3+1” meeting in Riga. The agenda of the meeting covered cooperation between the Baltic States and Germany, current foreign and security policy challenges in Europe and beyond, as well as the future of the European Union.
Looking back at the 25 years since the renewal of diplomatic relations between the Baltic States and Germany on 28 August 1991, the Ministers welcomed the close cooperation between their countries and their mutual support that had a prominent role to play on the Euro-Atlantic integration path of the Baltic States. The transition experience of the Baltic States over 25 years has been a good motivator and example for countries wishing to embark on a similar path of freedom, democracy and the rule of law. Both the Baltic States and Germany are continuously committed to protecting and promoting these values.
The Ministers expressed satisfaction at the trustworthy strategic partnership between the Baltic States and Germany in the European Union, NATO and other international organisations, as well as formats for cooperation in the Baltic Sea region. The Ministers recognised that the annual meeting of the Foreign Ministers of the Baltic States and Germany held since 1994 and the regular visits at all levels offer a clear proof of the high value attributed by the parties to their mutual dialogue.
In 2015 the Foreign Ministers adopted action plans for deepening bilateral cooperation in areas such as the media, civil society, strategic communication, as well as education and youth. The Ministers of the Baltic States expressed their gratitude to Germany for the support provided for various projects and activities in Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania in the framework of these action plans. The Ministers commended the current pace of implementation of various projects in the framework of the action plans and expressed interest in expanding this cooperation in the future.
The Ministers voiced their commitment to deepening cooperation in the field of security and defence through continued implementation of the decisions taken at the recent NATO summit in Warsaw. The Ministers underlined the importance of the Allies’ decision to establish an enhanced forward presence in Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Poland. Germany’s offer to serve as the framework nation for the multinational presence in Lithuania significantly contributes to the security of the region.
The four countries are committed to a shared vision of Europe, based on solidarity and mutual assistance between the EU Member States in support of a common security and defence policy. The Baltic States and Germany remain of the firmest belief that the EU provides a historically unique and indispensable framework for shaping peaceful and mutually beneficial relationships amongst its people and for contributing to peace and stability in the world. Every effort shall continue to be made towards a stronger and more cohesive EU based on common values and the rule of law.
The Ministers strongly reaffirmed the joint commitment of the Baltic States and Germany to the EU. Discontent with the functioning of the EU in parts of societies should indeed be taken very seriously and require determined actions and adequate responses to make the EU deliver better for all of its citizens. While not stepping back from what has been achieved, common efforts must focus on challenges which can only be addressed by common European answers, while leaving other tasks to the national or regional level.
Regarding the future relationship between the EU and the UK, the Baltic States and Germany stand ready to assist the institutions in the negotiations once the British government has transmitted its decision to leave the EU in accordance with Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty. The UK remains an important European partner. For Europe to overcome the challenges of the 21st century, the Ministers reaffirmed a strong interest in maintaining close relations with the UK while always keeping cohesion of the EU27 in mind.
The Ministers concurred that the Baltic States and Germany are linked by shared values that also underlie the EU. Therefore, the partnership between the four countries has gained particular importance with a view to overcoming the major challenges facing Europe. Only by working with determination shoulder to shoulder, will we be able to find common answers to preserve a united and strong Europe which enjoys peace, freedom, security and prosperity in an increasingly changing world.