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Prime Ministers hope for EU-accession in 2004

While meeting at a guest house near Visaginas belonging to the Ignalina nuclear power plant, the Baltic Council of Ministers took the opportunity to visit the plant and inspected its safety and security measures, the local media reported. At the session, Prime Ministers Siim Kallas (Estonia), Andris Berzins (Latvia), and Algirdas Brazauskas (Lithuania) signed a joint resolution and an agreement on cooperation in tourism.

The resolution declared that the three states hope to complete EU-accession negotiations in 2002 and join the union in 2004, as well as be invited to join NATO at the Prague summit in Nov-02. Noting that EU members have not yet been able to agree to the proposed agricultural policy following expansion, the premiers said a coordinated position of the three states would be more effective in getting more favourable conditions. They agreed to form a group of experts to consider the possibility of holding their respective referendums for EU membership on the same day.

The meeting also decided to postpone, until 2003, the creation of a unified Baltic energy market. No agreement was reached on launching a common Baltic labour market because Estonia has not yet decided if it will support it.

(NewsBase 01.vii.02)

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