Council of the Baltic Sea States (CBSS)
Summary of Remarks by Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov at the 16th Ministerial Session of the Council of the Baltic Sea States, Oslo, June 7, 2011
Dear Colleagues, Ladies and Gentlemen,
I would like to express my appreciation to Mr. Jonas Gahr Store for the hospitality and for the excellent organization.
The Norwegian Presidency has succeeded a great deal in improving the practical benefits of the work of the Council of the Baltic Sea States (CBSS) for people's lives in the countries of the region.
The Council greets its upcoming 20th anniversary on the rise. The expert groups and the conference on cross-border cooperation function effectively. The Organization's reform is moving forward with the aim of making its activities as pragmatic as possible. Everyday work in the CBSS brings our countries closer together on the sound basis of common regional interests. This makes it possible to create a unifying agenda on a regional platform for EU member states, as well as non-member countries. And it would be a mistake to try to transform this structure into a mechanism for implementing the policy of but one of the parties.
Our common goal is to make the most effective use of available tools in order to bring the region to the forefront in terms of adopting ecologically clean technologies, increasing energy efficiency and ensuring stable and sustainable growth conducive to the welfare and protection of the population of member countries.
The scale and ambition of these plans and the challenge of ensuring a high level of competitiveness of the region dictate the need for innovation and modernization cooperation. We hope that the German Presidency will incorporate these promising trends among its priorities. Collaboration on this track could be cross-cutting for the German Presidency and the subsequent Russian Presidency in 2012-2013.
Public-private partnership in the Baltic Sea region opens up a wide range of possibilities. The region is home to modern high-tech industries, a strong research and education base, developed port facilities, and attractive tourist and cultural destinations. Highly educated, enterprising people live here. A number of states of the region, including Russia, have amassed considerable experience in effective public-private interaction. Suffice it to mention such major investment projects as the Baltic Wastewater Collector in St. Petersburg, the modernization of the Ust-Luga port complex, the Kaliningrad water supply system and Khrabrovo Airport, and the railway ferry complex of Baltiysk. I think it would make sense to organize under CBSS auspices the exchange of experience for the development of this promising form of cooperation.
All the more urgent now is the task of facilitating the visa regime in the Baltic Sea region that will have a positive impact on business, scientific, educational, cultural, and tourism ties.
A good example is the Agreement on Facilitation of Mutual Travel for Border Residents of Russia and Norway, signed in 2010. We hope that similar arrangements will soon be reached with Poland and Lithuania. There is progress in the Russia-EU negotiations to conclude a visa-free agreement as well.
The condition of the natural environment of the region, first and foremost the Baltic Sea itself, is an absolute priority of Russia. The main interstate mechanism in the region – HELCOM and CBSS – can make its contribution, using, inter alia, the possibilities of the Expert Group on Maritime Policy.
Looking ahead, I would like to highlight energy issues. In addition to existing CBSS projects, the Baltic Energy Ring project part of which could be the Baltic Nuclear Power Plant in the Kaliningrad Region deserves substantive elaboration. We guarantee that the project implementation will be flawless in terms of nuclear and environmental safety standards. We invite you to the international conference on all aspects of the construction of the Baltic Nuclear Power Plant that will be held in St. Petersburg on June 14-15 this year.
We support the continuation for a further period of three years of the EuroFaculty program, which not only helps to modernize teaching methods in universities, but also promotes inter-university networking in the region.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
The declaration adopted in Vilnius a year ago has set benchmarks for Baltic Sea cooperation to 2020. We think it will be helpful to arrange monitoring of the implementation of its objectives, so as to make quick adjustments to the practical activities of the Council if necessary.