Saturday

23rd Sep 2017

Focus

Nordic-Baltic co-operation vital in turbulent times

  • The Nordic-Baltic co-operation was established 25 years ago thanks to an ability for quick decision-making in a turbulent geopolitical situation. (Photo: Nikolaj Bock – norden.org)

As the communist Soviet Union was collapsing in the early 1990s, not only our neighbours but the world as a whole found themselves in a period of unprecedented upheaval.

The Baltic countries, which had lived under Soviet oppression for nearly 50 years, saw an opportunity to regain their independence, which they achieved as the USSR fell apart.

Thank you for reading EUobserver!

Subscribe now and get 40% off for an annual subscription. Sale ends soon.

  1. €90 per year. Use discount code EUOBS40%
  2. or €15 per month
  3. Cancel anytime

EUobserver is an independent, not-for-profit news organization that publishes daily news reports, analysis, and investigations from Brussels and the EU member states. We are an indispensable news source for anyone who wants to know what is going on in the EU.

We are mainly funded by advertising and subscription revenues. As advertising revenues are falling fast, we depend on subscription revenues to support our journalism.

For group, corporate or student subscriptions, please contact us. See also our full Terms of Use.

If you already have an account click here to login.

Nordic observers followed events closely and with a growing level of involvement.

There was a strong sense of solidarity with Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania, as well as support for their aspirations for independence and democracy. It was no surprise, then, when the Nordic and Baltic regions began to co-operate on a practical level before independence was a reality.

The Nordic Council and the Nordic Council of Ministers were pursuing the idea of establishing information centres in the Baltic countries as early as the autumn of 1990. There was broad consensus on this, and the council of ministers opened offices in Riga, Tallinn, and Vilnius in early 1991.

Consequently, this year we are celebrating not only 25 years of Baltic independence, but also 25 years of co-operation between our regions.

Celebrating 25 years of co-operation

Initially, Nordic-Baltic co-operation was characterised by establishing contacts, as well as promoting Nordic culture and social values, democracy, and gender equality in the Baltic region.

After the Baltic countries joined the EU in 2004, it was determined that co-operation should be on equal terms.

Guidelines were adopted that form the basis of today’s Nordic-Baltic co-operation, which includes: cross-border co-operation; gender equality, research, and innovation; co-operation on social affairs and health; and the environment and sustainable development.

Today we can look back on 25 years of very successful co-operation.

Thousands of activities have taken place relating to social welfare, gender equality, trafficking, sustainability, the environment, culture, the media, and other issues.

These many efforts, not least the so-called mobility programmes, have provided – and continue to provide – lasting benefits.

The mobility programmes alone have resulted in a huge exchange of knowledge between the Nordic and Baltic countries. The efforts of the Vilnius office to support the European Humanities University – an exile university for Belarusian students in Vilnius – have attracted a good deal of attention and are worth mentioning.

Integration of Russian-speaking minorities

We also have several Nordic solutions that have served as models for the Baltic countries, such as the Gender Equality Ombudsman and Nordic political summer meetings.

In recent years, the Nordic Council of Ministers has taken an increasingly active approach to supporting independent Russian-language media in the Baltic countries.

Examples include support of the television channel ETV+ in Estonia, training in independent journalism supported by the Latvian office, and the newly opened branch of the Tallinn office in Narva.

These are all steps in the council of ministers’ strategy to contribute to the better inclusion of the Russian-speaking minority in the Baltic countries.

The opening of the Narva branch illustrates the Nordic Council of Ministers’ approach in the region over the years, which has often been characterised by quick responses to new challenges.

Subjected to Russian pressure

The Nordic offices were rapidly established 25 years ago thanks to an ability for quick decision-making in a turbulent geopolitical situation. This ability has endured to this day, and is once again important as the present geopolitical situation is the most unstable it has been for many years.

The need for cohesion between the Nordic and Baltic regions becomes even greater when the Baltic countries are subjected to Russian pressure.

The Nordic Council of Ministers still has the opportunity to make a difference in the Baltic region. Challenges must be faced head on, as before, with measures adapted to the current situation.

This has been possible thanks to the continued bolstering of efforts at the Nordic offices.

Our efforts in the Baltic region have, without doubt, been highly successful and demonstrate the importance of international co-operation. If you believe in co-operation as an instrument for achieving democracy, security, and prosperity – well, then it’s easy to see the continued relevance of Nordic-Baltic co-operation. We are more than ready to consolidate our experiences, and break new common ground.

Even in the 25 years to come, our close and innovative co-operation can help to encourage development in the right direction, as well as to strengthen our common position and role in a wider European and global context.

If we succeed in this, we’re all winners.

Dagfinn Hoeybraaten is Secretary General of the Nordic Council of Ministers.

Nordic soldiers advised to study French

Nordic troops ought to learn French to better contribute to UN peace missions in future, security experts and politicians have been told.

In cooperation with

News in Brief

  1. Dutch state appeals ban on taking air-polluting measures
  2. May proposes 2-year transition period after Brexit
  3. May to call on EU's 'sense of responsibility'
  4. Catalonia has 'contingency plans' for independence vote
  5. Last German polls confirm Merkel's lead
  6. EU to step up sanctions on North Korea
  7. Tusk calls 'euro summit' in December
  8. Report: May to seek two-year EU transition

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. EU2017EEEU Finance Ministers Agreed to Develop New Digital Taxation Rules
  2. Mission of China to the EUGermany Stands Ready to Deepen Cooperation With China
  3. World VisionFirst Ever Young People Consultation to Discuss the Much Needed Peace in Europe
  4. European Jewish CongressGermany First Country to Adopt Working Definition of Antisemitism
  5. EU2017EEFour Tax Initiatives to Modernise the EU's Tax System
  6. Dialogue PlatformResponsibility in Practice: Gulen & Islamic Thought
  7. Counter BalanceHuman Rights Concerns Over EIB Loan to the Trans Anatolian Pipeline Project
  8. Mission of China to the EUChina Leads the Global Clean Energy Transition
  9. CES - Silicones EuropeFrom Baking Moulds to Oven Mitts, Silicones Are a Key Ingredient in Kitchens
  10. Martens CentreFor a New Europeanism: How to Put the Motto "Unity in Diversity" Into Practice
  11. Access MBAGet Ahead With an MBA Degree. Top MBA Event in Brussels
  12. Idealist QuarterlyIdealist Quarterly Event: Building Fearless Democracies With Gerald Hensel

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Mission of China to the EUPresident Xi Urges Bigger Global Role for Emerging Economies
  2. EU2017EEAre We Socially Insured in the Future of Work?
  3. European Jewish CongressFrench Authorities to Root Out "Societal Antisemitism" After Jewish Family Assaulted
  4. European Federation of Local Energy CompaniesClean Energy for All? On 10.10 Top-Level Speakers Present the Clean Energy Package
  5. UNICEFUp to Three Quarters of Children Face Abuse & Exploitation on Mediterranean Migration Routes
  6. Swedish EnterprisesEurope Under Challenge; Recipe for a Competitive EU
  7. European Public Health AllianceCall to International Action to Break Deadlock on Chronic Diseases Crisis
  8. CES - Silicones EuropePropelling the construction revolution with silicones
  9. EU2017EEEU 2018 Budget: A Case of Three Paradoxes
  10. ACCAUS 'Dash for Gas' Could Disrupt Global Gas Markets
  11. Swedish Enterprises“No Time to Lose” Film & Debate on How Business & Politics Can Fight Climate Change
  12. European Free AllianceSave The Date!! 26.09 - Coppieters Awards To... Carme Forcadell