Speech of Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov about CBSS at the third Ministerial meeting of the Northern Dimension, Brussels, 18 February 2013
On this occasion, I would like to invite my colleagues from Member States of the Council of the Baltic Sea States (CBSS) to the Ministerial session of the Council that will be convened 5-6 June 2013 in Kaliningrad and will become a closing event of the Russian Presidency.
In our opinion, our main task in this position is to give a fresh impetus to the multilateral interaction in the Baltic, also the consolidation of the role of CBSS as a coordinator of regional cooperation in this part of Europe.
Being a chairman, Russia acts within the framework of long-term priorities of CBSS formalized in the Riga Declaration of Baltic Sea States Heads of Government (2008). They include economic development, environmental protection and sustainable development, education and culture, energy, civil security and human dimension.
Moreover, our Presidency has its own agenda aimed at the creative combination of succession and reforms, the "re-orientation" of CBSS to project activities and search of new directions for combination of efforts.
In practical terms, Russia's priorities come down to this:
1. Development of cooperation in the field of modernization and innovations with the emphasis on growth clusters and a prospective entry to the formation of a partnership in this field.
Pilot projects are being developed in this field within the framework of the Modernization Partnership for South East Baltic Area (SEBA) that was launched in cooperation with Germany and at its initial stage is oriented to the Kaliningrad Region (KR) of the Russian Federation. Projects of creation of an innovative environmental and tourism cluster "Lake Vistytis", the inclusion of the area into the regional network of water touring, the organization of a youth camp called "Baltic Artek", the promotion of the mechanism of a public-private partnership, the creation of the European Law Institute on the basis of Immanuel Kant Baltic Federal University in Kaliningrad have already been selected for implementation.
A conference summarizing the first stage of SEBA implementation is planned "on the sidelines" of the forthcoming Ministerial session of CBSS.
A significant achievement of the Russian Presidency was the coordination of modalities of the operation called Project Support Mechanism – Project Financing Fund in the amount of 1 million Euro for the period 2013-2015 (to be launched from 1 March 2013). This financial instrument will allow the Council to allocate a start-up capital for the implementation and co-financing of projects of region-wide importance, including those within the framework of the previously mentioned SEBA program.
2. Formation of the Baltic public private partnership (PPP) space as a sustainable growth platform with the establishment of a regional innovation fund for direct investments.
In autumn 2012, Russian Presidency in CBSS launched a Pilot Financial Initiative (PFI) in accordance with the Memorandum of Understanding between two National Banks – German KFW and Russian Vnesheconombank, as well as the Permanent International Secretariat of CBSS.
The Memorandum envisages annual allocation of ca. 100 million Euro during 2013-2015 to the implementation of projects in the Baltic Sea Region in the field of support of innovatory small and medium enterprises (SME).
Specific steps here are the signature of a credit facility agreement for 110 million US dollars in November 2012 in Moscow about financing of projects in the field of SME in the North-West of Russia, and a similar agreement for 65 million US dollars in December 2012 in Stockholm for PPP purposes envisaged for construction of a modern solid waste disposal and recycling plant in St Petersburg.
The International Conference "Fostering Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) in the Baltic Sea Region: Financing, Public Private Partnership, Innovations" took place in Kaliningrad on 22 November 2012.
Currently, we work on the involvement in this project of powerful regional financial institutions such as the Nordic Environment Finance Cooperation (NEFCO) and the Nordic Investment Bank (NIB), as well as national development banks from other Baltic Sea States.
3. Within the framework of efforts related to the promotion of tolerance traditions as a means of countering radicalism and extremism a Baltic Sea NGO Forum will take place in St Petersburg on 16-17 April, the topic of which will be "Tolerance and Cultural Diversity".
4. Development of direct contacts between people, including easing current visa restrictions.
A prominent event in this field, in particular what concerns the establishment of youth exchanges, was the first international shift within the framework of the project "Baltic Artek" – an international your camp operating in Kaliningrad Region with support of the Council of the Baltic Sea States in August 2012.
One of the assets of our Presidency is the beginning of the second phase of the EuroFaculty-Pskov project (2013-2015) in October 2012 the purpose of which is to introduce modern education standards in the leading higher education institutions of the Russian North West and Baltic States.
An important event of Russian Presidency will be the Heads of Governments of CBSS Conference on the oenvironmental protection of the Baltic Sea region (5-6 April, St Petersburg), the purpose of which is to consolidate multilateral environmental protection cooperation in this region of Europe, the impetus for which was given by the Baltic Sea Action Summit held in 2010 in Helsinki.
Thank you for your kind attention.