Council of the Baltic Sea States (CBSS)
Remarks by First Deputy Foreign Minister Vladimir Titov at a ministerial session of the Council of the Baltic Sea States, Reykjavik, June 20, 2017
Colleagues, ladies and gentlemen,
First of all, allow me thank the Icelandic presidency for organising today's meeting, as well as their persistent, consistent and successful work during the past year for the benefit of Baltic cooperation.
We welcome the progress achieved by Iceland in resuming the political dialogue. Let's not forget that the last time the foreign ministers met was in Kaliningrad four years ago. Today's session gives us an opportunity to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the organisation, which we consider to be the key forum on multilateral cooperation in the Baltic Sea region. It allows us to review our achievements, assess the current situation, and discuss our future. The CBSS was established in 1992 as a common regional forum focusing on our need for enhanced cooperation and coordination among the Baltic Sea states.
In subsequent years, the council achieved impressive results in many areas from education to nuclear and radiation safety, and from sustainable development to combating human trafficking. In some cases, this came as a result of the CBSS expert groups’ consistent work, in others, the implementation of long-term programmes, such as EuroFaculty, which has become an established Baltic brand.
The Council evolved, and we reformed it whenever necessary. The 2008 Riga Declaration gave the CBSS activities a project-oriented character. It stipulated that the Council is not just a "discussion club," but an organisation that does practical work in the interests of ordinary citizens of the region. The Vilnius Declaration was adopted in 2010, which enshrined the vision of Baltic cooperation for the period up to 2020 and constitutes an important basis for our activities.
With regard to the current state of affairs, the Council has a number of features which make it an active and respected organisation. I will mention a few.
Strategic vision. We set ourselves clear goals, carefully select and update long-term priorities, which currently include Sustainable and Prosperous Region, Safe Region, and Regional Identity adopted in 2014.
Integrated approach. We consider the region, its needs and potential in their entirety.
Depoliticised nature of cooperation within the CBSS. We prioritise people’s interests, not politics, in our work.
Ability to adapt to rapidly changing realities. Whenever we are faced with new challenges (climate change, human trafficking, migration), the Council remains an effective platform for developing responses and, where appropriate, recommendations for other players in the region.
Finally, the existing architecture of interaction within the Council. The CBSS activities are based on two pillars. One is political dialogue. We believe it is critically important for us to maintain an open and candid high-level discussion on a wide range of issues that are relevant for the entire region. The Council allows 12 equal partners to meet on a regular basis, to jointly look for ways to overcome current challenges, and to take advantage of opportunities.
The second pillar is that our organisation is project-oriented, which allows the CBSS to direct its efforts and resources to the most relevant areas of cooperation. This also makes the Council's activities more visible. In this context, I would like to mention the CBSS Project Support Facility. It is a valuable mechanism to support specific initiatives that are consistent with the long-term CBSS priorities. We welcome the recent renewal of the facility’s activities for another three years.
With regard to the future of the region and our Council, I will highlight a number of goals, which, I hope, are shared by everyone in this room.
In the coming years, we want to see a Baltic region that is stable and prosperous. This can be achieved through the economic growth of our countries and mutually beneficial cooperation between them in the spirit of mutual respect, trust and consideration of each other's interests.
The CBSS should remain the main multilateral cooperation institution in the region. However, attention should also be paid to achieving synergy with other cooperation formats in Northern Europe. To this end, Russia proposes resuming the practice of holding, at the political level, coordination meetings of the northern regional councils (BEAC, CBSS, AC, and NCM) and Northern Dimension partnerships.
To implement these plans, we will have to achieve an important goal, which is to develop a new strategy for the region, since the current one, approved in Vilnius in 2010, expires in three years.
The decision to establish the Group of Wise Persons, which should develop a road map for the Baltic Sea Region for the period up to 2030 constitutes an important step towards achieving this goal. We want these experts to do thorough and thoughtful work and come up with concrete results. We need a clear vision of the region shared by everyone, which will outline the relevant goals and propose ways to achieve them. Russia will be willing to contribute to this work.