Renaissance of Nordic cooperation
"The Nordic cooperation is enjoying a renaissance," Foreign Minister Ilkka Kanerva estimated in a press conference on Friday 8 June, held after the Nordic Foreign Minister Meeting organised in Helsinki. The foreign ministers of the Nordic Countries meet each other quite often nowadays in different contexts. "Together we are stronger in relation to countries bigger than us. The Nordic Countries complement each other, since all of them contribute to the cooperation with their own areas of competence," Swedish Foreign Minister Carl Bildt said.
"Informal discussions are our trade mark and our strength," Kanerva reminded. "Our discussions are not limited to five Nordic Countries alone, but through their member states, also NATO and the EU are involved," he continued. The newest Foreign Minister of the group of five, Ingibjörg Sólrún Gísladóttir of Iceland, praised also the meeting as fruitful. The topics discussed during the meeting included, for instance, relations with Russia and the climate change.
Regional cooperation is thriving
The other Nordic Countries promised to support Finland in its efforts to reach the UN Security Council membership for the term 2013-14. Finland will launch its membership campaign next year, soon after the decision on Iceland's application for 2009-10 has been made. Kanerva promised that Finland will also give its own support for Iceland's membership efforts. Norwegian Foreign Minister Jonas Gahr Störe commended that the Nordic Countries have a tradition of supporting each other. "Just like in the Eurovision Song Contest," Carl Bildt remarked.
The Council of the Baltic Sea States, aiming at cooperation not limited to the Nordic Countries alone, aims at strengthening the competitiveness of the Baltic Sea states and enhancing environmental cooperation between the countries of the region. Sweden has made an initiative on the reform of this cooperation forum. Foreign Minister Bildt pointed out that, in many respects, the Baltic Sea is a leading region in Europe, but the countries united by the Baltic Sea have many common challenges to face. The initiative aims at bringing all these issues together.
Kanerva to Moscow in July
Foreign Minister Kanerva will meet Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov for the first time in Malmö, at the Foreign Minister Meeting of the Council of the Baltic Sea States on 12-13 June. In the press conference, Kanerva said that he will meet his Russian colleague again when he makes a Foreign Minister visit to Moscow on 5 July.