President Ilves in Riga for State Visit
"Estonia has no other neighbour that we understand as well as we understand Latvia. We have been connected by Livonia and we share a common history, but what's even more important is that we share a common future in Europe and the euro area," said President Toomas Hendrik Ilves at his meeting with Latvian Head of State Andris Bērziņš during his state visit to Riga.
"We have helped each other and been mutually good partners, sometimes also competitors. Today, Estonia is strongly supporting Latvia's pursuits to access the euro area, which of course assumes compliance with all the Maastricht criteria," said President Ilves. "This is quite possible, as over the last couple of years Latvia has set the example of being responsible to a number of former euro area countries with questionable economic futures."
"In economic terms, Latvia and Estonia are major countries for each other, as our entrepreneurs have very good mutual business relations," President Ilves stated. "Latvia's success is also Estonia's success, as the good progress of Estonia depends on your good progress and vice versa."
According to the Estonian head of state, today's joint ventures of two neighbouring countries should be channelled into realistic projects. "Baltic co-operation, if this is meant to be more than just a slogan, assumes a contribution to realistic infrastructural projects or investments into joint projects, which can be measured in money and really improve the lives of our citizens, fusing us in both a physical and economic sense," said President Ilves. One project that the president emphasised during his visit was Rail Baltic, which will connect Helsinki with Poland via Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania, and then on to the rest of Europe. “Rail Baltic is the most important project in our co-operation, and it has the support of the European Commission,” he stated. The president and his wife took a train from Tallinn to Riga for the visit; the ride lasted five and a half hours.
During the state visit, President Ilves will also meet with the Speaker of Latvian Parliament, Solvita Aboltina, Prime Minister Valdis Dombrovskis, and Mayor of Riga, Nils Ušakovs, open an Estonian-Latvian business forum, participate in a discussion of opinion leaders, visit an Estonian school in Riga and visit areas inhabited by Livonians in Courland.
Within the framework of the visit, Latvian state decorations will also be bestowed on Ilves and members of his delegation. Toomas Hendrik Ilves will be given the Order of Three Stars, 2nd Class, and the Cross of Recognition, 1st Class. The Cross of Recognition will also be presented to Evelin Ilves, among others. The Order of Three Stars will be presented to Estonian Economic Affairs and Communications Minister Juhan Parts, the Estonian president's foreign affairs aide Margus Laidre, the parliament's foreign affairs committee chairman Marko Mihkelson, and Estonian Ambassador to Latvia Mati Vaarmann. The Estonian Chief of Defence Brig. Gen. Riho Terras will receive the Order of Viesturs, First Class.
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