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TALLINN, March 06. /ITAR-TASS/. Foreign ministers from the Baltic, Northern and Visegrad Group states will meet in the Estonian city of Narva on Thursday to discuss issues of the European Union’s foreign policy, including relations with Russia and the situation in Ukraine and in Western Balkans countries.
One of the key issues on the meeting’s agenda will be the discussion of the prospects of the European Union’s Eastern Partnership program [which targets to promote regional cooperation with six former Soviet republics, namely Azerbaijan, Armenia, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine], which has nearly come to a standstill after Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych refrained from signing an association agreement with the European Union at the Eastern Partnership summit in the Lithuanian capital city of Vilnius in late November 2013. No doubt, the situation in Ukraine will be in the focus of the meeting despite the fact that its agenda had been agreed long before the crisis in Ukraine erupted.
It looks like debates about the Ukrainian development are going to be heated. On Wednesday, Estonian Foreign Minister Urmas Paet confirmed the authenticity of his leaked telephone conversation with Catherine Ashton, the High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, during which they had discussed, among other things, the snipers who were shooting at people during the protests in Kiev. During the conversation, Paet said that “there is now stronger and stronger understanding that behind the snipers, it was not [Ukrainian President Viktor] Yanukovych, but somebody from the new coalition.” Ashton reacted by saying: “Well, yeah…that’s, that’s terrible” and noted that the issue was worth investigating. “I think we do want to investigate. I mean, I didn’t pick that up, that’s interesting,” she said.
A number of countries want to raise economic questions, since they already have joint projects in the areas of energy and transport. Thus, Finland, the Baltic republics and Poland are participants in the project for the building of an international high-speed European-standard railway gauge line, Rail Baltic, that will link Helsinki and Warsaw. The projected railway line will run via Tallinn and Riga, while Vilnius is off its route. So, Lithuania is pressing its partners to have its capital city included into the project. Another stalled project that the three Baltic countries cannot get started with is the construction of the Visaginas Nuclear Power Plant in Lithuania. Tallinn and Riga are dissatisfied over delays and Vilnius’ unclear position, while the latter is hesitating to plunge into this costly project.
In 2014, Estonia is the coordinator of cooperation between the Baltic republics and Northern countries, and Hungary is the coordinator of regional cooperation between the Visegrad Group member countries.