Lithuanian president: Russia is a major problem for the Baltic states

The Baltic Times, 2 June 2017

TALLINN – Lithuanian President Dalia Grybauskaite said that Russia is a major problem for the Baltic states.
“The biggest problem is Russia, which conducts military exercises close to our borders with more and more aggressive content. This forces us all to strengthen our military force,” she said in a Thursday interview with the Estonian newspaper Postimees in connection with her forthcoming visit to Estonia.

In her words, that NATO will conduct internal reforms that will lead to a significant reshaping of the planning system.

In addition, Grybauskaite said that the Lithuanian liquefied natural gas terminal placed on a ship in Klaipeda will help all three Baltic states to reduce dependence on Russian gas.

“After this ship was launched, the gas price dropped for all of us. With the disappearance of the monopoly of Russian Gazprom we have increased not only economic independence, but also freed hands for political decisions,” she said.
The president also called for ratification of the agreement on the construction of high-speed railway Rail Baltica, connecting the Baltic countries in Central Europe, even though there is still no agreement on it among states of the region.

“If the agreement is not ratified, other allies and the European Commission will say: if you are not able to negotiate and maintain your own project, why should we allocate money,” said Grybauskaite.

“In my opinion, the decision to build Rail Baltica has already been made. It is important to develop the transport corridor between the north and the south. The three Baltic states must demonstrate that they are able to cooperate,” the Lithuanian president said.

Grybauskaite will visit Estonia on June 5-6. The Estonian president’s Chancellery reported that Grybauskaite intends to discuss issues of regional cooperation, the upcoming Estonian presidency in the EU Council, the future of the European Union, Eastern Partnership, Brexit, and migration. The parties also plan to discuss NATO issues, security policy, energy, and transport.

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