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Why did Volodymyr Zelensky visited Baltic states?

On November 26, Volodymyr Zelensky's official visit to Estonia ended. During the visit of the President of Ukraine to Estonia, an agreement on cooperation between states in the field of digital transformations was signed. Also, Volodymyr Zelensky and Estonian President, Kersti Kaljulaid signed a joint statement on Ukraine's support in the geopolitical arena and internal reforms. The Ministries of Defense of Ukraine and Estonia signed a Declaration on cooperation in the field of territorial defence. During his visit to Estonia, which took place the day before, Volodymyr Zelensky held a number of meetings. The President of Ukraine met with the President of the Estonia, Kersti Kaljulaid, Speaker of the Riigikogu (Parliament), Henn Põlluaas and Prime Minister, Jüri Ratas.[1]

In addition, the President of Ukraine, Volodymyr Zelensky at the meeting with the President of the Republic of Estonia, Kersti Kaljulaid discussed the implementation of the "Three Seas Initiative" and noted Ukraine's interest in joining this forum of Eastern and Central Europe. "Ukraine and Estonia, as important players in the Baltic-Black Sea region, are interested in implementing joint projects and initiatives on the economy, infrastructure and the environment. During today's negotiations, we separately discussed the implementation of the "Three Seas Initiative", and most importantly - the substantive interest of Ukraine to join it," the press service of Volodymyr Zelensky quotes him. He also noted the adoption of the joint statement of the presidents of Ukraine and Estonia, which fixes the agreed positions of the states, the priorities of the partnership and determines joint steps in the future.[2]

During a meeting between Ukrainian President, Volodymyr Zelensky and President of Lithuania, Gitanas Naus?da in Vilnius on November 27, Nauseda wished Zelensky not to make unprofitable concessions at the "Normandy meeting". In addition, the President of Lithuania stressed that sanctions against Russia should continue. "We wish you not to make concessions that may harm you. We hope that negotiations will help facilitate steps that will reduce tensions in your region. Our duty is to help Ukraine," he said.[3]

Following the meeting of the Council of Presidents of Ukraine and the Republic of Lithuania, which was chaired by Volodymyr Zelensky and Gitanas Naus?da, a number of documents were signed. In particular, the Presidents signed a Declaration on the development of strategic partnership between Ukraine and the Republic of Lithuania for the period from 2020 to 2024. Deputy head of the Office of the President of Ukraine, Ihor Zhovkva and Chief Foreign Policy Advisor to the President of Lithuania, Asta Skaisgiryt? signed the Protocol of the Twelfth Session of the Council of Presidents of Ukraine and the Republic of Lithuania, which reflects the main agreements reached during this event. Vice Prime Minister - Minister of Digital Transformation of Ukraine, Mykhailo Fedorov and Minister of Energy of the Republic of Lithuania, ?ygimantas Vai?i?nas signed a Declaration of Intent for Mutual Recognition of Electronic Identification and Trust Services for Electronic Transactions between the Ministry of Digital Transformation of Ukraine and the Ministry of Economy of the Republic of Lithuania.  In addition, the Minister of Defense of Ukraine, Andriy Zahorodniuk and the Minister of National Defence Raimundas Karoblis signed a Declaration of Intent on Cooperation in Cyber Security Sphere between the Ministry of Defence of Ukraine and the Ministry of National Defence of the Republic of Lithuania.[4]

 As part of the development of the Eastern partnership concept, a group of Lithuanian MPs in the European Parliament proposed an initiative called the Trio Strategy 2030, which implies enhanced cooperation with the states that have European Union Association Agreement - Ukraine, Georgia and Moldova.[5] This Strategy is aimed at "soft" transformation of post-Soviet states and their transformation into successful democratic states, in particular, taking into account the experience of predecessors from Eastern Europe, for them the main impetus for the development was the EU enlargement process. A new vision provides for the beginning of the so-called "trio process" for states that have Association and Free Trade Agreements with the European Union, and opening up the prospect of EU membership for these states. "The European "trio process" should be proposed for the next ten years to support states that have developed relations with the EU in the format of Association and deep and comprehensive free trade area (Ukraine, Georgia and Moldova)," the  explanatory statement says.

According to the authors, such a policy would be in the interests of the EU itself. "Today we are at a critical point where we must add new long-term tools to our strategy to help the peoples of the leading group of the trio associated with the EU to maintain motivation and impetus for reform over the next decade until 2030," the document says. The main innovation of the new strategy is not only the preservation of the principle of "more than more" in relations with the EU, but also the specification of the obligations of the EU itself, which in response to the success of reforms should offer partner states the tools for a more ambitious final goal of European integration. The "trio process" is actually a repetition of the so-called Berlin initiative, initiated by Germany in 2014 and proposed to the Western Balkans states to accelerate their European integration processes.[6]

It can be stated that by actively promoting the "Trio Strategy 2030" in the European Parliament, Ukraine is approaching the prospect of EU membership, and in this context, Zelensky's visits to the Baltic states not only demonstrate an active foreign policy towards these countries, but also once again confirm our commitment to the EU.  Another important achievement of his visit to the Baltic states confirms the intention of Volodymyr Zelensky to build a strong geopolitical axis along the North-South line, which would be a reliable support for Ukraine in deterring Russian aggression and in implementing the Ukrainian foreign policy aimed at European and Euro-Atlantic integration.





[5] В Європарламенті ініціюють нову стратегію щодо України.