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Baltic leaders agree to strengthen region's energy independence

Hendrik Ilves, Dalia Grybauskaite and Andris Berzins. Photo: ELTA.
 KAUNAS (Lithuania), Nov 28 (LETA--ELTA) - Today, Latvian President Andris Berzins, Lithuanian President Dalia Grybauskaite and Estonian President Toomas Hendrik Ilves met in Raudondvaris Castle, not far from the Lithuanian city of Kaunas, and agreed to work together to strengthen the region's energy independence, the Lithuanian Presidential Press Service reports.

The heads of state also discussed concerted actions in negotiations on the European Union's budgetary framework for 2014-2020, aiming to achieve financial support serving the best interests of the Baltic people.

"Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia share new common goals. We have to make use of opportunities to strengthen the Baltic region," said Grybauskaite.

The Baltic States have common goals in negotiating Europe's seven-year financial framework. Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia want EU direct payments to reach the bloc's average level sooner and the specific situation in the Baltic countries to be taken into account when allocating cohesion funds.

The Baltics have been heavily affected by the crisis, therefore their common goal is to achieve an exception in the bloc's strict constraints for structural aid.

It is also important for the Baltic countries to secure funds for power interconnections with Poland and Nordic countries and the high-speed railroad project "Rail Baltica". Such opportunity will be provided by the Connecting Europe Facility (CEF), envisaged in the new budget.

According to Grybauskaite, power and gas interconnections and a liquefied natural gas terminal in Lithuania will serve to strengthen energy independence, laying foundations for the region's successful long-term economic development.

The meeting also addressed Lithuania's preparation for the Presidency of the European Union Council in the second half of 2013 and nuclear power prospects in the region.
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