Joint Statement                                        
 by the Presidiums of the Baltic Assembly and the Nordic Council                
              on the Occasion of the Joint Meeting                              
                                                                                
                    Vilnius, 15-16 April 1996                                   
                                                                                
     Introduction                                                               
                                                                                
The Baltic  Assembly,  representing  the  Estonian,  Latvian  and               
Lithuanian Parliaments  and the  Nordic Council,  constituted  by               
members of  the Danish, Finnish, Icelandic, Norwegian and Swedish               
Parliaments and  the Parliaments  of the  autonomous  regions  of               
Aland,  Greenland   and  the   Faroe  Islands,  met  in  Vilnius,               
Lithuania, on  15-16 April  1996 to  reinforce the  existing  co-               
operation between the two Organisations, and to discuss issues of               
mutual interest.                                                                
                                                                                
     Baltic-Nordic Relations                                                    
                                                                                
We, Parliamentarians  of  the  Baltic  Assembly  and  the  Nordic               
Council,  declare  our  commitment  to  contribute  to  promoting               
security, stability  and prosperity of the region and ever closer               
cultural links  between our nations, building co-operation on all               
levels on common heritage and joint democratic values.                          
                                                                                
We express  our deep satisfaction with the co-operative framework               
existing between  the Baltic  Assembly and  the  Nordic  Council,               
manifestly laid  down in  the 1992 Agreement on parliamentary Co-               
operation between the two Organisations.                                        
                                                                                
The Co-operation  Agreement will  be reviewed  in the  course  of               
1996, in  order to  ensure that  it will  well  serve  our  joint               
political  ambitions.   The  Nordic  Council  will  continue  its               
scholarship programme for Parliamentarians from the Baltic States               
with a  view to  possibly  expanding  the  programme  to  include               
parliamentary staff from the three parliaments.                                 
                                                                                
We also  note with content the existing Governmental co-operation               
between the  Baltic and  Nordic countries,  bilateral as  well as               
multilateral through the Baltic and Nordic Councils of Ministers.               
                                                                                
     Regional Dimension to Baltic-Nordic Co-operation                           
                                                                                
We, Parliamentarians  of  the  Baltic  Assembly  and  the  Nordic               
Council, recognise  the fundamental importance of regional inter-               
Parliamentary  co-operation   as  a  contribution  to  stability,               
security and  social  and  economic  development  in  the  Baltic               
region.  We   underline  the   political  significance   of   the               
Parliamentary Conferences  on Co-operation in the Baltic Sea Area               
and the  documents adopted  by these  Conferences. We welcome the               
new Baltic Sea Area initiative by the European Commission.                      
                                                                                
We urge  Baltic and Nordic Governments, as well as the Baltic and               
Nordic Councils  of Ministers,  to do their utmost to promote and               
develop existing  co-operation, in  particular within fields that               
are vital  to prosperity  in the Baltic region such as protection               
of  the   environment,  common   energy  projects,   creation  of               
information infrastructure  and common  transport  projects,  and               
hence essential  for the  livelihood of  people in our countries.               
Such  co-operation   should  comprise,  inter  alia,  encouraging               
Baltic, Nordic and European financial institutions to co-ordinate               
their activities  in the  Baltic States  to  enhance  sustainable               
development.                                                                    
                                                                                
Furthermore, we call for joint and co-ordinated Government action               
to be  taken, in  order to  ensure sustainable development and to               
mitigate the  effects of  environmental hazards including nuclear               
accidents  and   waste.  We   also  encourage   Parliaments   and               
Governments to  seek close co-operation in addressing trafficking               
of narcotics  and doping  substances and other forms of organised               
crime.                                                                          
                                                                                
Likewise, we  call on  Governments to  undertake, in a context of               
international co-operation,  concerted efforts  to curb irregular               
movements  of   people,  while   ensuring  individual   needs  of               
international legal  protection  and  recognising  the  value  of               
facilitating, e.g. through exemption and/or harmonisation of visa               
requirements, intra-regional  contacts between  human beings,  in               
particular the  establishment and  extension of  visa-free travel               
arrangements   between the Baltic States and the Nordic Countries               
for citizens of these countries, when conditions so allow.                      
                                                                                
We recognise that successful integration of all population groups               
into societies  will contribute to stability in the whole region.               
High standards  of civil rights enjoyed by all inhabitants of the               
Baltic States  and  the  Nordic  countries  can  only  strengthen               
loyalty with their State of residence.                                          
                                                                                
In view  of the  summit meeting  of the  Baltic Sea States, to be               
held in  Visby on  3-4 May  1996, we  urge participating Heads of               
Governments to  recognise  the  necessity  to  base  their  joint               
efforts on broad popular support.                                               
                                                                                
     European Dimensions to the Baltic-Nordic Co-operation                      
                                                                                
As  expressed   by  Representatives     of    Baltic  and  Nordic               
Governments,  an   enlargement  of   the  European   Union   (EU)               
constitutes a historic opportunity for the Baltic region and such               
an  enlargement   will  promote  peace,  freedom,  stability  and               
prosperity in all of Europe.                                                    
                                                                                
We  have  noted,  with  satisfaction,  the  support  from  Nordic               
countries for  a process  of enlargement  of  the  EU  that  will               
comprise three  Baltic States  on an  equal  footing  with  other               
States having  concluded Europe  Agreements with  the EU,  and/or               
submitted  their  candidature  for  EU  Membership.  Negotiations               
should start  simultaneously with  all candidates  not later that               
six months  after the  conclusion  of  the  EU  Intergovernmental               
Conference (IGC).                                                               
                                                                                
We call on Nordic Parliaments and Governments to assist the three               
Baltic States  in their own efforts to prepare for EU membership,               
e.g. through  advice on  approximation of national legislation to               
EU standards,  and to  share, as  appropriate, experience  gained               
during the  EU Intergovernmental  Conference  with  their  Baltic               
colleagues.                                                                     
                                                                                
We appreciate  the Baltic  participation in the Nordic contingent               
to the  IFOR peace-enforcing  mission in  Bosnia-Herzegovina as a               
concrete  expression   of  common   values  and   a   significant               
contribution to the efforts to bring peace and security in Bosnia               
and all of Europe.                                                              
                                                                                
                                                                                
     Future Co-operation                                                        
                                                                                
We  look  forward  to  the  continuation  of  intra-regional  co-               
operation between  the three  Baltic States  and the  five Nordic               
countries, with  Parliamentary as well as Governmental dimensions               
on the  basis of the "five-plus-three formula", while recognising               
that  certain  challenges  facing  our  societies  may  call  for               
international response on a wider scale.                                        
                                                                                
We pledge  to continue regional Parliamentary co-operation and to               
convene, in due course, further joint meetings between the Baltic               
Assembly and the Nordic Council.