Estonian Prime Minister Juri Ratas (R) shakes hands with his Latvian counterpart Krisjanis Karins after a joint press conference in Tallinn, capital of Estonia, on Feb. 8, 2019. Estonian Prime Minister Juri Ratas held a meeting here on Friday with his Latvian counterpart Krisjanis Karins, focusing on bilateral relations, EU-related issues, security and transatlantic cooperation. (Xinhua/Guo Chunju)
TALLINN, Feb. 8 (Xinhua) -- Estonian Prime Minister Juri Ratas held a meeting here on Friday with his Latvian counterpart, Krisjanis Karins, focusing on bilateral relations, EU-related issues, security and transatlantic cooperation.
Speaking at a joint press conference at Stenbock House, the seat of the Estonian government, Ratas said that neighboring Latvia is "a very important country for us," highlighting their common history and strong bilateral ties.
"Latvia is an important investment destination and trading partner for our companies," he noted.
During their meeting earlier, the two prime ministers also discussed strengthened cooperation on security and defence matters. The three Baltic states (Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania) increased their defense spending to 2 percent of GDP in 2018, Ratas said.
Speaking with one voice is crucial to ensure that the Connecting Europe Facility fully supports the further development of the Rail Baltica project, they said, welcoming Finland's decision to join the project that would link Tallinn with Warsaw in Poland.
Krisjanis said that cooperation between the two countries was "fantastic." Latvian companies make significant investments in Estonia, and Latvia welcomes Estonian investment, he said, vowing to keep bilateral ties strong.
On Brexit, Krisjanis said that Latvia and Estonia agree with the EU's position, adding that the Baltic states will maintain very close and strong ties with Britain no matter how Brexit plays out. Britain is "an extremely strong and important strategic partner," he said.
The prime ministers also addressed the synchronization of their respective countries' power networks with those of continental Europe. This project should be completed by 2025, the Estonian prime minister said.
Estonia is the first foreign country Krisjanis has visited since he took office on Jan. 23.