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Monday, 6 November 2006

A presidential meeting in Vilnius

On 5 November 2006, the President of the Republic of Poland, Lech Kaczyński, left for Vilnius in the evening to attend a meeting of the Presidents of the Baltic States.

Upon arrival in Vilnius, the Polish President met in private over dinner with the President of the Republic of Lithuania, Valdas Adamkus. During the 6 November summit President Lech Kaczyński participated in plenary talks. He also met with the Presidents of Lithuania and Latvia and attended the opening ceremony of an exhibition to mark the 15th anniversary of the reestablishment of diplomatic relations between the Republic of Poland, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania.

The Presidents signed a joint declaration, stressing the importance of the energy sector in cooperation between the four states. After the meeting, the Polish President told the journalists that the talks had concerned cooperation between the Baltic Sea states at the international forum, among other issues. The leaders also discussed the planned transport projects of major importance to the region: Via Baltica and Rail Baltica.

Following the talks, a joint press conference of the Presidents was held, in the course of which the President of the Republic of Poland said:

‘First of all, I would like to thank you once again for giving me an opportunity to participate in this extremely interesting meeting. I must say it is rarely the case for as many as four presidents to discuss so many issues within less than two hours. Indeed, we discussed our relations with our biggest neighbours; we discussed NATO enlargement, the Riga conference and matters relevant to the relationship between the EU and those countries that have declared their desire to join the Union. We discussed energy sector issues, the possible establishment of interconnections between our national power grids, and of transport connections, both rail and road connections, between the Baltic States and Poland and the farther EU countries situated to the west of Poland. Finally, we even talked about nuclear power. And on all those issues our opinions were quite similar.

I would like to draw your attention first and foremost to the issue of NATO enlargement. Regrettably, the next meeting, the Riga summit to be held in 22 days’ time, will not be devoted to this issue, but we fully agree that some kind of message needs to be sent here. As far as the European Union is concerned, our position (I mean Poland here) is that the strengthening of cooperation with Ukraine and other countries, particularly with Georgia, must be accompanied by prospects for accession, even if we realistically assume that these are not short-term prospects. I recalled the fact that Poland’s progress towards European Union membership took more than twelve years. Finally, regarding cooperation in the energy sector, we discussed the northern pipeline project, as underlined by the preceding speakers. On this issue, Poland’s position has not changed. We are glad to see that our countries have taken similar positions on the issue, and we pointed out the need for diversification in various directions. I presented our plans on this question.

We also said that cooperation between the Baltic States and Poland within the European Union framework and within the NATO framework might, given the mechanisms of these organisations, notably the European Union, bring major results. To abandon a purely reporting formula, I can say that I am deeply satisfied with today’s meeting. I am very glad indeed, I believe that it has created some prospects. Naturally, the Baltic States constitute a certain separate quality within the EU, in Europe; perhaps we will indeed see a new Benelux. Poland’s situation is slightly different here, which is not to say that we cannot cooperate very closely indeed. I take very seriously the assurances that this is not our last meeting in this circle, that there will be more meetings, both regarding our region’s interests and in connection with the European Union, for we are counting on its assistance in establishing rail and road connections. I would like to declare one thing here; as I took office as President of the Republic of Poland 10 months ago, the issue of establishing interconnections between our national power grids was a rather theoretical issue. Today, the project is about to be finalised; naturally I do not mean the actual implementation here, for such projects cannot be completed within a matter of months, but in terms of signing the relevant agreements. I am highly satisfied here. If we met here again in one year’s time, I believe, the rail and road connections project would also have been much more advanced between our countries, in organisational terms, in terms of international agreements, that is. The incumbent Polish authorities are interested in seeing solutions of this kind adopted. In our own interest, in the interest of solidarity between the regions, as regards our countries, and I am absolutely convinced that also in the interest of the European Union as a whole – for if this project, on an unbelievable historical scale, that the EU represents, is to be taken seriously, all our countries should take it seriously, too. Thank you very much.’

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