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News, 5/16/2016

For a Stable and Secure Baltic Sea Region

The Nordic countries are working together to ensure stability and welfare in an effort to co-ordinate our development co-operation, promote free trade and to participate together in international crisis management and peacekeeping missions. The Nordic perspective in all these issues involves a concentrated focus on democracy, human rights and the rule of law.

Kristian Jensen, Børge Brende and Timo Soini. Photo: Kimmo Räisänen
Kristian Jensen, Børge Brende and Timo Soini. Photo: Kimmo Räsänen

The security situation in Europe is being challenged by Russia's illegal annexation of Crimea and its military actions, which have upset the stability in and around the Ukraine. Russia's increased military activity and rising tensions, also in the Baltic region, must be replaced with political dialogue and respect for international law.

Europe has responded resolutely to Russian aggression in the Ukraine. There is no place for the use of violence in conflict with international law, whether it be in Europe or elsewhere. We must maintain pressure on Russia and demand that it act responsibly and refrain from any more aggression. At the same time, we have to keep the channels for political dialogue open. Dialogue is in the best interests of all parties and should be used to resolve concrete problems and calm the situation.

The inviolability of international frontiers, the sovereignty of states and territorial integrity, peaceful resolution of disputes, the rule of law and respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms remain the cornerstones of the European security system, in accordance with the Helsinki Accords and Paris Charter. The Nordic countries have been unequivocal in their support for the Ukraine's territorial integrity and sovereignty, standing behind the sanctions levied by the West. The sanctions will remain in effect until all parties, including Russia, have fulfilled their obligations in accordance with the Minsk Protocol.

The challenging of our common, established regulatory system and our values confronts us with a new reality. Previously, Nordic co-operation comprehended everything except security and defence. Times have changed. We must further develop our co-operation in foreign and security policy in order to more effectively promote stability, alleviate tensions and improve contact between people in our community. By keeping diplomacy at the forefront, we will be able to establish security in our part of the world.

In 2009, the Stoltenberg Report marked the advent of deeper Nordic co-operation in foreign and security policy. We have begun an ambitious co-operation in civil crisis management, foreign, security and defence policy, both as a group and bilaterally. The establishment of Nordic Defence Co-operation (NORDEFCO) has led to increased collaboration between our countries. Our co-operation involving cyber-issues, crisis management and sea rescue are other examples of successful Nordic co-operation.

Timo Soini, Kristian Jensen, Lilja Alfredsdottir and Timo Soini. Photo: Kimmo Räisänen
Timo Soini, Kristian Jensen, Lilja Alfredsdottir and Timo Soini. Photo: Kimmo Räisänen

We are developing our foreign and security policy jointly in several different forums, such as in the UN, OSCE, Council of Europe, NATO Partnership for Peace (PfP) and EU. There is a need for increased transparency and confidence- and security-building measures, including risk management in Europe and, in particular, the OSCE. Our common goal is closer Nordic co-operation in maintaining and defending the European security system and the promotion of regional stability.

The Nordic countries have played a key role in promoting regional co-operation. The Council of the Baltic Sea States, Barents Euro-Arctic Council and Arctic Council are all important organisations, in which the Nordic countries are members and even Russia is an active, constructive member. We will continue our active involvement in building confidence and encouraging co-operation between people, particularly in Russia. The Twinning Network at the local and regional level is vital in this respect. Regional and cross-border co-operation is important for maintaining co-operation and contacts with various actors in Russia, including Russian civil society.

We have three EU member states and three NATO member states in our family of nations, but we share a security policy environment and, above all, we share the same values. We can take advantage of our variable geometry to promote common goals, including welfare, stability and security in our region. It is in our interests to encourage the EU and NATO to further develop their co-operation.

The importance of the Baltic Sea region to European security has increased. These challenges should be addressed by both the Council of Europe and during the NATO Summit in July. The Council of Europe will be approving a global strategy for the EU. It is built upon our common European values and will steer the EU in working toward achieving stability and development. The NATO Summit in July will, in part, focus on security in the Baltic Sea region. All the Nordic countries strongly support engaging in a deeper dialogue between NATO, Finland and Sweden concerning regional security as well as in political dialogue during the NATO Summit.

In ten days, we will continue this discussion with the United States at the U.S.-Nordic Leader Summit in Washington D.C. It is very much in our best interests to further build the Nordic countries' relationship with the United States. Nordic co-operation with the United States in foreign and security policy issues will be further enhanced. We will be working together to promote strong Transatlantic ties.

The Baltic Sea region needs our collective Nordic attention and agency. Our discussions in Porvoo today will focus on concrete measures to strengthen stability and security in our shared region. Together, we will ensure that a strong Nordic voice is heard in the UN, EU, NATO, Council of Europe and OSCE regarding European security.

Timo Soini, Finland
Margot Wallström, Sweden
Børge Brende, Norway
Kristian Jensen, Denmark
Lilja Alfredsdottir, Iceland

Updated 5/16/2016

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