Hong Kong, 24 September 1997 (RFE/RL) - Lithuanian Finance Minister Algirdas Semeta has called upon the European Union (EU) to begin accession negotiations with all three Baltic nations instead of just Estonia.
Speaking to the IMF/World Bank annual meetings in Hong Kong on behalf of all three Baltic countries, Semeta said they welcomed the fact that Estonia has been invited to begin negotiations, but that Latvia and Lithuania have made "strong progress" this year and are now ready to start the process.
He said accession to full EU membership is "very important" for the Baltic states and that it would greatly strengthen future cooperation among the three if all could start at the same time.
The Lithuanian minister said the three have asked the World Bank to step up technical assistance in getting them ready for EU membership and that a number of reforms have been accelerated in each country to improve the investment climate and speed up the privatization of large and medium scale enterprises. He said the telecommunications and electric utility sectors are on that agenda.