|Statement of the President Lennart Meri Tallinn, September 18, 2001
I have today been able to welcome in Tallinn President Tarja Halonen of Finland, President Vaira Vīķe-Freiberga of Latvia, President Valdas Adamkus of Lithuania and President Aleksander Kwaśniewski of Poland. Our conference has reached some fruitful decisions.
First of all, we focused on the barbaric aggression against the United States of America. We are unanimous that this was a declaration of war against all states sharing the principles of democracy, freedom of expression and human rights. We stand in complete solidarity with the democratic World in our determination to fight terrorism.
In this context it is suitable for me to recall a paragraph from the US-Baltic Charter which states that "The Partners will consult together, as well as with other countries, in the event that a Partner perceives that its territorial integrity, independence, or security is threatened or at risk." In the spirit of this charter I pledged to President Bush Estonia's full support. I am glad our conference shared this conviction. The five participants of this conference, allies or partners of the United States, have expressed their readiness to combat international terrorism with all means at their disposal.
In addition to our response to these attacks we also discussed our bilateral and multilateral relations, as well as our ties with NATO and the EU.
We all agreed that there is a need for speedy progress in the European Union accession negotiations and I am grateful to President Tarja Halonen and Finland for their strong support. The aim must be to attain the goal set forth in the conclusions of the Nice and Göteborg European Councils that the first candidate countries participate as full EU members in the 2004 European Parliament elections.
Together with the Presidents of Latvia, Lithuania and Poland the NATO enlargement was discussed. The candidate countries at this table expressed their conviction that the 2002 Prague Summit will take the decision on the further enlargement of the Alliance. This must mean that all candidate countries best prepared for membership, including Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania, will be invited to join NATO. Poland and particularly President Kwaśniewski have been and are among our strongest supporters.
The bilateral relations between our five countries are excellent. We discussed the need to further expand the transportation and energy networks that connect our nations. We all share a common interest in the further development and improvement of the Via Baltica as a road linking Central and Northern Europe. We discussed the possibility of the European Union supporting the completion of this project.
We also discussed the progress made in connecting the electricity networks of Lithuania and Poland. Furthermore, Estonia welcomes the establishment of a gas pipeline between Poland and Norway. I hope that these will be the first steps in creating the Baltic Energy Ring which has been under discussion from 1992 onwards. The future Energy Ring will connect all Baltic Sea countries and will secure our long-term energy supply.
Finally we discussed our countries' relations with neighbouring states to the east. We expressed our expectation that the continued economic and legal reforms in Russia will expand the scope of cooperation between the EU and the Russian federation. All our countries stand ready to give our contribution to this end.
We also expressed our support for Ukraine's integration with European structures.
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