In 2016, we celebrated the 25th anniversary of the restoration of independence of the three Baltic States and the re-establishment of regular, multifaceted Baltic-Nordic cooperation ties.
A quarter of a century is an important milestone calling for reflection and evaluation: How far has the cooperation advanced? What is its track record? What achievements has it yielded? And, perhaps most pertinent of all, where do we want to go from here and how do we envisage our next twenty-five years together?
To ponder and discuss issues such as these, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Latvia and the Nordic Council of Ministers´ Office in Latvia summoned a high-level roundtable “1991-2016 and the Way Ahead” on 22 August 2016, held at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Latvia. The lineup of main speakers consisted of distinguished politicians with a solid commitment to Nordic-Baltic cooperation:
H.E. Mr Edgars Rinkēvičs, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Latvia;
Mr. Dagfinn Høybråten, Secretary General of the Nordic Council of Ministers;
Mr. Petras Auštrevičius, Member of the European Parliament, Lithuania;
Mr. Carl Bildt, former Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs of Sweden;
Mr. Uffe Ellemann-Jensen, former Minister of Foreign Affairs of Denmark;
Mr. Jón Baldvin Hannibalsson, former Minister of Foreign Affairs of Iceland;
Mr. Jüri Luik, Director of the International Centre of Defence and Security, former Minister of Foreign Affairs and Defence of Estonia;
Mr. Kimmo Sasi, former Minister of European Affairs and Foreign Trade of Finland;
Mr. Michael Tetzschner, Member of Parliament of Norway
Interventions were also made by the following guests:
Mr. Tomas Bertelman, former Ambassador of Sweden to Latvia (2000-2003); former Ambassador of Sweden to Russia (2009-2012)
Ms. Elita Cakule, Head of International Department at the Association of Local and Regional Authorities in Oslo
Ms. Rikke Helms, first director of the Danish Cultural Institute in Latvia
H.E. Ms. Kirsten Malling Biering, Ambassador of Denmark to France; first resident ambassador in Latvia (1991-1995)
Mr. Michael Metz Mørch, Secretary General of the Danish Cultural Institute; former Ambassador to Latvia (1995-1999)
Mr. Karlis Neretnieks, Major General (ret.); member of the Royal Swedish Academy of War Sciences; member of the Latvian Society of Generals
Mr. René Nyberg, former Ambassador and East Office CEO; author of “Finland and Nordic Security”
Mr. Artis Pabriks, Member of the European Parliament; former Latvian Minister of Foreign Affairs and former Minister of Defence
Mr. Romualds Ražuks, member of Latvian Parliament and Baltic Assembly
Mr. Veiko Spolītis, member of Latvian Parliament and Baltic Assembly
Mr. Jānis Vucāns, member of Latvian Parliament, President of the Baltic Assembly and Baltic Sea Parliamentary Conference
The roundtable was moderated by the Associate Professor of Comparative Politics at the University of Latvia, Mr. Daunis Auers, who has written and commented extensively on Baltic and Baltic-Nordic relations and is the author of “Comparative Politics and Government of the Baltic States: Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania in the 21st Century” (2015).
The discussion was divided into two thematic blocks:
* key achievements and lessons learnt from the last twenty-five years of Baltic-Nordic cooperation,
* current challenges of the Baltic-Nordic cooperation and ambitions for the future.
Each part began with an initial round of remarks by the moderator and the main guest speakers, followed by interventions and queries from the invited guests. The general public was able to follow the discussion online via live streaming.
The following transcript presents the discussion in its entirety, save for minor editing of primarily grammatical character.