Lithuania will chair Baltic cooperation in 2024. The chairmanship of Baltic cooperation is held on a rotational basis and changes at the start of each calendar year. The task of the chair is to coordinate cooperation between the governments and parliaments of the three countries over the course of the year.
The Minister of Foreign Affairs of Lithuania, Gabrielius Landsbergis, noted during his speech at the 29th Baltic Council on 24 November 2023 in Tallinn that Ukraine's victory was an existential issue for the Baltic states and the West. Thus, support for Ukraine's fight must be our top priority in the near term.
"In 2024, we must continue to dedicate much time and effort to manage crises and prevent their consequences. But worse scenarios, which could directly impact the Baltic states' security, are also possible. Today, they don't seem unreal. Ukraine defends the rules-based international order at this moment. Therefore, Ukraine's victory is an existential issue not only for the Baltic states but also for the West, and our support for Ukraine's fight must be the most important priority in the near term," Minister of Foreign Affairs of Lithuania Gabrielius Landsbergis said.
According to Landsbergis, the Baltic states are an example of protecting the EU's external borders due to their geographical location. Therefore, a unified regional implementation of sanctions while at the same time taking concrete and reinforced control measures in the fight against the circumvention of sanctions remains a priority of the Baltic cooperation. The other priorities which Lithuania will focus on during its chairmanship in 2024 will be regional security, including the safety of critical infrastructure and bolstering regional interconnectivity.
History of the Baltic cooperation
Cooperation between three Baltic States is based on the trilateral Treaty on Concord and Cooperation, signed on September 12, 1934 in Geneva. The Declaration on Unity and Cooperation, signed on May 12, 1990 in Tallinn, in full scope restored the cooperation between Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia. Pursuant to the Geneva Treaty the Baltic Council was established in 1990. The Baltic Council of Ministers (BCM) – the institution of trilateral intergovernmental cooperation was established at the meeting of Baltic Prime Ministers on the 13th of June 1994.
The Baltic Council of Ministers (BCM) – the institution of trilateral intergovernmental cooperation - was established at the meeting of Baltic Prime Ministers on the 13th of June 1994. The BCM was reformed and adjusted to the changed environment, when the Baltic States joined the EU and NATO. The structure of the BCM takes into account political interests and gives a possibility to manage the trilateral cooperation. The BCM operates under the guidance of the Prime Ministers’ Council, and the Cooperation Council, which comprises the ministers of foreign affairs, coordinates the activity of the Committees of Senior Officials (CSO). Pursuant to the Terms of Reference the Committees of Senior Officials act at five areas of cooperation at the expert level. If necessary, The Task Forces are established by the Prime Ministers’ Council. The Prime Ministers’ Council determines specific task to be performed by the Task Force in definite time frame. The Secretariat arranges the activities of the BCM. The Secretariat comprises the officers of the foreign ministries of Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia, who are responsible of the cooperation of the Baltic States. The Secretariat acts on the initiative of the chairmanship in the preparation for the meetings of the Prime Ministers‘ Council and Cooperation Council. The chairmanship of the BCM is starting from the beginning of every calendar year. The country holding the chairmanship is engaged in directing the work carried out on all levels of cooperation.
Baltic Parliamentary and Governmental Cooperation
The Baltic Assembly (BA) is an international organization, established on 8 November 1991, which aims to promote cooperation between the parliaments of the Republic of Estonia, the Republic of Latvia, and the Republic of Lithuania. The BA Statute entered into force on 31 October 1993.
The Agreement on Baltic Parliamentary and Governmental Co-operation between the Republic of Lithuania, the Republic of Latvia, and the Republic of Estonia was signed on 13 June 1994 in Tallinn. The Protocol amending the agreement was signed on 28 November 2003 in Vilnius.
The joint meeting of the Baltic Council is convened annually by the Baltic Council of Ministers and the Baltic Assembly. It includes a session of the Baltic Assembly, a meeting between the Presidium of the Baltic Assembly and Cooperation Council of the Baltic Council of Ministers, a meeting of the Cooperation Council of the Baltic Council of Ministers. It also includes the report of the Chairman of the Cooperation Council to the Baltic Assembly session on cooperation between the Baltic states during the previous year on activities related to the resolutions adopted by the Baltic Assembly during the year, as well as plans for further cooperation.
For more information about the Baltic Assembly, please read here http://www.baltasam.org/en/