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Wednesday 21.03.2018 | Name days: Una, Unigunde, Dzelme, Benedikts

Opinion: Latvia and Lithuania fiercely compete for cargoes

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Baltic news, News from Latvia, BNN.LV, BNN-NEWS.COM, BNN-NEWS.RU«National interests of the three Baltic States clash in RB Rail project. Nevertheless, shareholders are trying to harmonize everything. Latvia and Lithuania fiercely compete with one another for cargoes. We have observed no signals or doubts from our side, Lithuania or Estonia that would suggest shareholders are not interested in having the project introduced within the allotted time. Concerns will always exist, but none of them are critical,» said chairman of SIA Eiropas Dzelzceļa līnijas Andris Linužs during a meeting of Saeima’s Foreign Affairs Committee on Wednesday, 7 March.

He mentioned that disagreements among RB Rail shareholders are not critical to the point of putting the project’s realization at risk. Those disagreements affect specific people, whereas the project is aimed at realization in all participating countries. All shareholders, he said, continue cooperating in matters associated with the realization plan.

«All the necessary decisions have already been made on the highest political level. The project’s schedule and realization plans have been approved and all duties have been delegated to their respective parties. There are delays, yes. It is a complicated project after all. Nevertheless, those delays do not put the project’s end goal at risk,» said Linužs.

He explains that the project can only be introduced if all participating countries cooperate.

Latvian Transport Ministry’s Railway Department’s director Patriks Markēvičs says that the offer to create an integrated project introduction and management structure is very radical, because Lithuanians and Estonians fear their say in the project would be reduced as a result.

«This is where concerns are the largest, because this affects national interests. Lithuania has a railway company whose interests are guarded by methods that border violations. This company believes its reach would be limited in a centralized management structure. If RB Rail was created in some other country, it would have been different. Now there are concerns that Riga controls everything. Radical changes in the project’s management approach should be performed gradually – with respect of all participating countries’ interests,» comments Markēvičs.

Linužs adds that Baltic States cannot afford to lose EU’s interest for this project. «We, the shareholders, have to offer EU a model supported by all three participating sides. But we have to reach an agreement on our own – Europe will not help here,» he said.

On 1 February, RB Rail shareholders from Estonia and Lithuania voted in favour expressing distrust to RB Rail CEO Baiba Rubesa. Linužs abstained in the vote.

It should be mentioned that Rubesa had previously reported a third party’s interference with the work performed by RB Rail. After a meeting of shareholders, Rubesa announced that the management board has faced opposition from certain council members and true beneficiaries towards Rail Baltica project’s founding principles. «Certain RB Rail council members sit in two seats. They are simultaneously Rail Baltica shareholders, realizers and potential suppliers. We constantly experience interference from higher ups in procurement processes and personnel selection for the board of RB Rail,» said Rubesa.

She did not mention any names. It is entirely possible that a lot of pressure came from Lithuania.


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