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PA COOPERATION BETWEEN THE U.S. AND BALTIC REGION DISCUSSED
Release Date: 04/24/98
FOR RELEASE: FRIDAY, APRIL 24, 1998
COOPERATION BETWEEN THE U.S. AND BALTIC REGION DISCUSSED
The United States, Sweden, Latvia and Lithuania have agreed to cooperate in developing a program to address environmental security issues throughout the Baltic region. Persuant to an interagency agreement on environmental security between the Department of Defense (DOD), Department of Energy (DOE) and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Dr. Alan Hecht, EPA’s Principal Deputy Assistant Administrator for International Activities, signed a record of discussion with representatives of the Swedish Armed Forces and the Lithuanian and Latvian Environmental and Defense Ministries on March 31. The record of discussion recognizes the vital connection between the environment, economic growth and political stability. In signing the document, Dr. Hecht said, “On behalf of Sweden and the three U.S. government agencies, I am pleased at this first step to address environmental issues.” The discussion among the United States, Sweden, Lithuania and Latvia covered a range of possible environmental activities, including the establishment of a Regional Defense and Environment Training Center at the existing Nemencine Civil Defense Training Center near Vilnius. Potential future activities would build on ongoing work to accurately identify and characterize pollution at former military sites in order to aid in the rehabilitation of such sites for private sector ownership and use. DOE and EPA will bring expertise in environmental remediation to this activity. U.S. cooperation with the Baltics is an important U.S. foreign policy objective and a major one under the recently announced Northern European Initiative which is being coordinated through the U.S. Department of State. Strengthening the environmental performance of the Baltic nations represents one of the first activities under a Memorandum of Understanding on environmental security signed in July 1996 by DOD, DOE and EPA.