Nordic inter-governmental and inter-parliamentarian cooperation is one of the oldest and most comprehensive regional cooperation models in the world. The Nordic “constitution”, also known as the Helsinki Treaty – a document regulating the official cooperation among the Nordic countries – was signed on 23 March 1962 in Helsinki, Finland. The date has therefore been called the “Nordic Day”. The signatory parties were all five Nordic countries: Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden. The treaty consists of 70 paragraphs, which stipulate that the parties shall maintain and foster cooperation in the spheres of legislation, culture, social affairs, environmental protection, infrastructure and economy. Likewise, the treaty provides for equal treatment of all Nordic citizens when devising laws and other regulations.
On the eve of the Nordic Day, 22 March, a panel discussion was organised in Riga upon the initiative of Jan Widberg, Head of the Nordic Council of Ministers’ Office in Latvia. The panel consisted of all the Nordic ambassadors residing in Latvia: H.E. Hans Brask from the Royal Danish Embassy; H.E. Olli Kantanen from the Embassy of Finland,; H.E. Steinar Egil Hagen from the Royal Norwegian Embassy; H.E. Henrik Landerholm from the Embassy of Sweden. The discussion was moderated by Rita Ruduša, executive director of the Baltic Centre for Media Excellence, and touched upon the themes of Nordic-Baltic cooperation, today’s challenges and possible future developments. A moment of silence for the victims of the terror attack in Brussels was held before the discussion.
Overall, the idea of a unified Nordic region has a strong popular support among the Nordic residents. According to a Nordic Council survey (conducted by Oxford Research, 2010), 8 out of 10 Nordic residents are positively inclined to Nordic cooperation, and 42% of the respondents would consider a Nordic federal state as a viable possibility.
The Nordic region is home to 26 million people, who are spread across eight time zones and have a strong language community – 80-90% of Danish, Swedish and Norwegian words are either identical or similar. Equality, welfare and democracy are common Nordic values that pave the way for close inter-Nordic cooperation on all levels – from prime ministers to primary school pupils.