Coverage of the diplomatic missions network to be handled among the Nordic and Baltic countries
The NB8 Foreign Ministers’ meeting, gathering together the Foreign Ministers of the Nordic and Baltic States which traditionally takes place in late summer, was hosted by Foreign Minister Tuomioja in Helsinki on 29–30 August. The NB8 countries include Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Iceland, Latvia, Lithuania, Norway and Sweden. Finland is the country coordinating NB8 cooperation in 2011.
The meeting began on 29 August with an informal dinner where Ukrainian Foreign Minister Kostyantyn Gryschenko attended as a guest. The topics of discussion at the ministerial meeting on 30 August were, among others, the EU’s Eastern Partnership policy, the situation in the Middle East and North Africa, the West Balkans and further deepening and development of practical cooperation among the Nordic and Baltic countries. In addition, the discussion touched on political prisoners in Belarus, and a joint demand for the release of all political prisoners was presented.
The ministers were also concerned about the situation in Libya, and Minister Tuomioja stated that all of the countries have expressed their support and assistance for the UN so that the situation could be resolved by peaceful means and the area would get democratic governance.
Minister Tuomioja also stated that Finland has proposed increasing nuclear safety by organising a joint drill among the authorities of the countries. As to the Middle Eastern peace process, there was a hope for more common vision and action coordinated by the EU. Finland was thanked for organising the event and enabling the joint talks.
Foreign Minister Audronius Ažubalis of Lithuania expressed the wish that Nordic and Baltic cooperation could be developed by intensifying the flow of information between our countries, especially in the direction of citizens. It would be important to get more information about everyday life in other countries of the region, to support decision-making, Minister Ažubalis stated. Next autumn Lithuania will arrange a corresponding gathering of prime ministers and presidents and it is indeed important once again to reinforce the countries’ joint objectives.
The ministers also discussed increasing the placement of their diplomats throughout the world so that they could work together in one another’s diplomatic missions. Thus in countries where there is no diplomatic mission of one’s own country, citizens could be offered, for instance, visa services through a neighbour country’s diplomatic mission. The coverage of the diplomatic missions network could thus be arranged in cooperation between the Nordic and Baltic countries. This would also bring added benefits, such as better coverage, flexibility and cost-effectiveness. This will further strengthen the countries’ good relations, the ministers concluded in their joint statement.
Following the meeting, a seminar celebrating the 20th anniversary of the Baltic States’ regained independence was held for invited guests.