“The Nordic region is a spiritual space covering the areas in which a large proportion of people define themselves as Nordic and feel an affinity with the spiritual Nordic community.”
This definition was formulated by Norwegian-born Richard Bærug, who has lived in the Baltic states since the late 1980s and was the first head of the Nordic Information Office in Riga (now – Nordic Council of Ministers’ Office in Latvia).In Richard Bærug’s opinion, a categorical definition of the Nordic countries based on state borders is too narrow and simplistic. According to him, elements like a shared history, nature, religion, humour, and music are at the core of the Nordic identity. This means that the Baltic States, for instance, clearly form a part of the Nordic region, and Bærug thinks they should be accepted as full members of the Nordic Council. A closer Scandinavian-Baltic cooperation would benefit the economy and security of the region, he says.
As a former language teacher, Richard Bærug emphasises the importance of language learning in removing misunderstandings and prejudices. This is why it is important to encourage the teaching of all the Nordic and Baltic languages even though English is gaining ground in Nordic cooperation.
Richard Bærug, who lives in Latvia, currently works in promoting the Baltic region internationally. He says that Norway and Latvia can learn from each other. For instance, when it comes to gender equality, Latvia is ahead of Norway in the corporate sphere, while Norway leads the statistics in national politics.
English summary taken from: Dialog 2009, a magazine published by the Nordic Network for Adult Learning