Freedom, Security and Justice – Common Interests in the Baltic Sea Region, St.Petersburg 26.-28.4.2010
Eight EU countries – Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Germany, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland and Sweden – now share the 8,000 kilometres of Baltic Sea coastline with Russia. Home to nearly 100 million people, the Baltic Sea region encompasses some of the wealthiest, but also some of the least prosperous areas in Europe. Closing the development gap and harnessing the full potential of the region is imperative, particularly in the current economic climate. The region is also facing a number of other pressing challenges. Whilst the environmental degradation of the Baltic Sea grabs the headlines, faltering economic development, a lack of energy interconnections and poor transport accessibility also presents major concerns.
These and some other challenges related to security in its broader concept have brought a number of international experts to take part in the Nordic Forum 2010. The forum aimed to explore how best to ensure best practices by all countries of the Baltic Sea region in addressing challenges and finding possible solutions, as well as different models for cooperation. The forum has also provided an opportunity to present the ongoing cross-border projects and share experiences.
This was the fifth time the Nordic Forum for Security Policy took place in Russia, and the second time it was held in St. Petersburg. The venue was selected intentionally: St. Petersburg as a stance and Russia as an actor are undoubtedly important for development of the fruitful cooperation on economical, security and environmental issues. The Nordic Forum for Security Policy has emphasized the importance of the place by arranging its tenth international conference in St. Petersburg. However, the Nordic Forum for Security Policy 2010 has its long history of a series of the conferences previously held in other cities like Kyiv (2008), Pskov (2006), Gdansk (2004), Murmansk (2003), Kaliningrad (2001), and Warsaw (1998).
Please see the programme for more detailed list of the discussed issues.
The Nordic Forum for Security Policy also offers you the pre-conference publication on the topical issues which were included into the Forum programme.
The conference was organized in co-operation with:
The Swedish OSCE-network
Association for Cooperation with Nordic Countries
Center of International and Regional Policy – CIRP
Nordic Forum for Security Policy 2010
FREEDOM, SECURITY AND JUSTICE –
COMMON INTERESTS IN THE BALTIC SEA REGION
Sokos Hotel Olympic Garden, Bataisky pereulok, 3A, 190013 St. Petersburg, Russia
April 26th, 2010. High Level Opening
Krista Kiuru, MP, Chair of STETE, welcomed the distinguished guests and speakers of the Nordic Forum for Security Policy 2010. She has noticed that working together while tackling the common challenges of the region is essential. Ms. Kiuru has emphasized that despite a good number of existing cooperation projects, the efforts are mostly hampered by the absence of an overall framework to adequately address the common chal¬lenges. Therefore, Ms. Krista Kiuru says, there is an undisputed need for more effective coordination. For this very reason, the Nordic Forum is an important event gathering the experts and decision-makers at one place to discuss, exchange and develop the new ideas and plans.
The speakers, who kindly opened the conference, included:
All speakers have brought into focus the fact that the Baltic Sea region is acquiring new significance on the international arena. The region is often viewed as a model of cooperation and somewhere followed as an example. Therefore it is particularly important to meet the expectations and to continue developing of the strategic cooperation between the countries.
The speakers have outlined the spheres of cooperation and noted that always, when a large number of actors are involved in a geographic area or in a particular field of activity, the question of coordination naturally arises. However, the participating countries should understand that underdeveloped capacity in one country can be a danger to all countries in the neighbourhood. The regular meetings, open discussions, and intensive exchange of experience are some of the most important steps in building of the confidence both inside the societies and between the countries. This is also a good way to enhance the neighbourly relations in the region and to improve the common security situation (where security is defined in a broader sense).
April 27th, 2010. Panel I (Part 1)
The Role of International Cooperation in Providing Security in the Baltic Sea Region
Chair: Elisabeth Bauer, Head of Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung Office in St.Petersburg, Germany
The first panel covered two main issues: development and challenges of the Baltic Sea region, and Belarus as a new participant in the Baltic cooperation projects.
Mr. Sven Hirdman has pointed at the environmental problem (where Sweden and Russia are main polluters), security management and transport safety as main challenges, which the Baltic Sea region currently faces. Building of the partner relationship between Russia and European Union has been highlighted as a separate challenge. Mr. Hirdman has referred to the heavily bureaucratized systems as an obstacle on a way of the effective cooperation. Speaking about possible solutions, Mr. Sven Hirdman has offered to consider the measures like development of the interregional trade into a free trade area, common electricity and gas network, encouragement of people to people communication through abolishment of the visa restrictions between the countries of the Baltic Sea region and Russia.
Mr. Henrik Lax has noticed that the most important players in the Baltic Sea region are the European Union, NATO and Russia. He has emphasized that some major unsolved problems existing in the relationship between the EU and Russia are rooted in a serious lack of mutual confidence and understanding. Major areas of concern, according to Mr. Lax, are on one hand of military nature, on the other hand they relate to economic and commercial matters. In the Baltic Sea Region the vulnerable environment with the sea itself in focus is an additional matter of concerns requiring attention. Mr. Lax has expressed his hope that the Baltic Sea Region can play an important role in building bridges and paving the way for stability and predictability in the relations between the EU and Russia.
Mr. Vladzimir Ulakhovich provided insight into the potential and perspectives of the cooperation between Belarus and the countries of the Baltic Sea region. He has mentioned that if before Belarus has been viewed as a secondary player, now the situation is different and Belarus enters the cooperation as a new competent partner. Mr. Ulakhovich says that although there are still a lot of stereotypes around the foreign policy of Belarus, since 2000 the government of Belarus has been conducting a number of projects to fulfil the expectations of its European partners. Another point that must be recognized, although, is that there is the certain type of political atmosphere in Belarus, which hinders the faster and more effective cooperation between Belarus and the EU counties. However, as Mr. Ulakhovich says, the democracy cannot be developed in an “up-down” way, but should grow from the very grassroots’ level, i.e. the democratic values should become a natural element of the every-day life in every family, on person-to-person level. Mr. Ulakhovich has underlined that the foreign policy of Belarus is directed at development of strong and stable cooperation with Russia, Ukraine, the countries of the Baltic Sea region and Poland, as well as with other EU countries.
Mr. Vyachaslau Pazdnyak has made stress on another milestone in Belarus-EU relationship – “Eastern Partnership”, which has been originally proposed by Sweden and Poland. The real meaning of the Eastern Partnership, according to Mr. Pazdnyak, is “more Europe,” where more intensified relations with the EU are based on the “choice for Europe.” However, it is obvious that Belarus is far behind its neighbours in developing mutually beneficial cooperation with the EU and it is difficult to conceive how it can “jump” into the Eastern Partnership without completing the preceding stages. Mr. Pazdnyak says that the European Union’s message to Belarus might be worded as following: the EU is ready to engage with it, but Belarus must do its part too — by continuing positive trends.
Panel I (Part 2)
Mr. Alexandr Sergunin and Mr. Rolf Ekéus were speaking about the new initiative of Russian President Dmitry Medvedev – the European Security Treaty (EST). This initiative followed the so-called Medvedev Plan that had been suggested by the Russian leader in his June 2008 speech in Berlin. The plan has outlined the contours of the new European security architecture and proposed the idea of a special security treaty of binding nature. Afterwards the Medevedev Plan was discussed with international leaders at different levels and at the UN General Assembly. The August 2008 Russian-Georgian military conflict has impeded the EST promotion process but since late 2008 when Russia’s relations with NATO and the EU have been re-established Moscow managed to reanimate the EST idea and bring it back onto the international agenda.
Professor Sergunin emphasized that NATO, the United States, Britain and some Eastern European countries opposed the treaty. Russia’s traditional partners such as Germany, France, Italy and Finland took a cautious stance. Switzerland was so far the only state that had voiced support for the treaty. Observers believe that CIS members also belong to the last category. At the same time, Mr. Rolf Ekéus has noticed that this is the time for OSCE to harmonize its relations with Russia. OSCE is more humanitarian by nature and has more flexible system to solve the conflicts if to compare with NATO. The speakers consider that it is possible to predict that the Medvedev initiative will generate a new pan-European discussion on regional security. This discussion can bring some positive results in terms of searching fresh ideas and ways to the solution of existing security problems on the continent.
Dr. John Scales Avery brought into focus the danger of the nuclear weapon and the steps of the Nordic countries to reduce the risk of the nuclear war. According to Dr. Avery, there are 26,000 nuclear weapons in the world today, about 4,000 of them on hair-trigger alert; and the total explosive power of today’s weapons is equivalent to roughly half a million Hiroshima bombs. Dr. Avery has underlined that even a small nuclear war, for example between India and Pakistan, would have a disastrous effect on global agriculture. Smoke from burning cities would rise to the stratosphere where it would spread globally, blocking sunlight, destroying the ozone layer, and blocking the hydrological cycle for a period of ten years.
From another side, Dr.Avery says, the climate changes making the extraction of resource in Arctic more possible than before. It means there will be large-scale competition for the natural resources of the Arctic. Militarization of the Arctic in support of territorial claims threatens the fragile ecology of the region and threatens its indigenous peoples. Therefore it is so important that the governments of Denmark, Norway, Sweden Finland and Iceland are opposed to nuclear weapons, and there none stationed on Scandinavian territory. For this very reason, Nordic Nuclear Weapon Free Zone (NWFZ) is viewed as the first step towards an Arctic NWFZ.
Mr. Grigory Kolyada and Colonel Antti Hartikainen focused on the border control cooperation between the countries of the Baltic Sea region. Mr. Kolyada has shared the information on the work of BSRBCC project (Baltic Sea Region Border Control Cooperation). BSRBCC project was outlined as a flexible regional tool for daily inter-agency (Police, Customs and Border authorities) interaction to combat cross-border crime and environmental protection of the maritime areas, able to adjust with time and changing conditions. The work of BSRBCC is conducted under the slogan “We have the spirit and the body to make the Baltic Sea Region remain secure in the future.”
Colonel Antti Hartikainen spoke on the tripartite border control cooperation between Finland, Russia and Estonia. He has told that in 1994 under the initiative of Finland, the cooperation programme has come into play and since that time proves to be successful. The programme is being coordinated through 3 meetings per year, while the chairmanship rotates annually between these three countries (this year Finland is holding chairmanship). Colonel Hartikainen has underlined that the main objectives of the programme are: joint risk analysis, preparation of the actions for joint exercises, joint operations and exchange of experts, and joint sea rescue exercises, which are arranged annually.
April 27th, 2010. Panel II
Free, Safe and Just Societies
Chair: Rolf Ekéus, Chairman of OSSE-nätverket, and Darja Akhutina, Director General of the Association “Norden”
Ms. Tone Tingsgård focused on the gender equality in political and social projects that were realized in the region. The gender equality was defined in the speech as equal rights and obligations for women and men, i.e. equal opportunities for both sexes to education, career, influence in society, economic independence, and personal development. However, as Ms. Tone Tingsgård has noticed, equality between all people or between women and men is a matter of justice and human rights but also a matter of power. If influence/power for one group (or person) increases, the groups that are already inside the influence/power circle see this as a threat and find ways to resist. Ms. Tone Tingsgård has emphasized that in this case we badly need the anti-discrimination laws and other mechanisms to overcome the challenge to equality. At the same time when people see and have reason to believe that shared influence is not a threat but a glue to keep society together and make it strong, maybe then we will not need the anti-discrimination laws.
Mr. Michail Gorny drew attention to another problem of security – corruption. The Russian Federation National Security Concept defines corruption as one of the threats for the national security. This is not by accident as today, according to Mr. Gorny, all society layers of Russia are heavily affected by corruption. Mr. Gorny has noted that cooperation between three sectors – government, business, and civil society – is necessary to combat corruption effectively. However, as corruption is not only the problem for one particular country, but an international challenge, cooperation between countries is essential. The international well-coordinated measures should be aimed at removal of the very causes and conditions of corruption, but also include the mitigation mechanisms. Mr. Gorny has shared the information on the measures that are being taken in Russia to tackle the problem of corruption.
Mr. Boris Pustyntsev has outlined the main challenges which Russia faces on its way to rule of law. Mr. Pustyntsev has noted that there is still a mass of violations of economical, civil, and political rights. However, Russia makes its steps forward and the situation is gradually getting better. For example, Russia has made some progress in its effort to improve its judicial system, i.e. to improve transparency and the court administration. Several years ago the situation in courts undermined the faith of people that they could protect and exercise their rights, which lead to political apathy and noninvolvement. Now, people more often go to the law, because they start trusting the system of justice. Mr.Pustyntsev believes that there is the progress and the certain work is being conducted by both the government of Russia and the civil society actors. However, although Russia is moving forward to reach a better situation in this particular field, it will take time to alter the situation appreciably.
Ms. Jelena Larionova and Mr. Olof Kleberg were speaking about how journalists performed their duties within the framework of the interregional cooperation. Ms. Jelena Larionova has noticed that there are 250 media outlets registered in Murmansk Region, but only 11 of them are private (the rest are state-owned). The number of the independent outlets remains obscure. Furthermore the number of people and journalists considering that censorship is necessary for the Russian press still prevails. These are just a few features, Ms. Larionova tells, of the conditions in which the Russian journalists try to cover the topical issues of security and cooperation. In regard to Nordic journalists, the speakers have noted that those who report on Russia mostly focus on the military issues, while the stories about people are not covered. Ms. Larionova says that both the Russian journalists and their Nordic colleagues tend to produce too aggressive and prejudged reports about each other’s countries. Mr. Kleberg has added that such a situation does not encourage people to people communication and does not promote development of cooperation.
Mr. Ashot Ayrapetyan has shared his concerns about the interethnic tolerance in Russia. He has outlined the situation in Karelia and in the city of Kondopoga in particular. Mr. Ayrapetyan has described the activities conducted by the Center for Interethnic Cooperation in Kondopoga since the bloody interethnic conflict that has happened a few years ago. The work with the government bodies and young people is among the key activities. As a result of the Center’s projects, Karelia has become one of the several regions in Russia, where the government bodies support the ethnical groups in their efforts to establish their own institutions, and where young people co-operate and contribute into improvement of the interethnic tolerance. However, as Mr. Ayrapetyan has noticed, there are a number of problems that vitiate efforts of the organizations working in the field of interethnic relations, the main of which are the poor education and lack of funding.
Chair: Tatyana Artemova, Co-chairperson “Association of Ecological Journalists”
The working group discussed the ecological threats and challenges in the Baltic Sea region. The speakers have emphasized that the Baltic Sea is extremely vulnerable. The cold climate and its brackish water mean that many of its species live on the limits of their existence. The sea is very shallow, with an average depth of only 57 metres. It takes around 30 years for the water of the Baltic Sea to refresh itself. This means that any pollution stays in it for a long time.
II Social and Health Care
The second working group tackled the challenges to health and social well-being in the Baltic Sea area. The social rights, HIV/AIDS epidemic, domestic violence became the main topics of the discussion. Unstable economic climate, poor health care services and significant problems in protection and realization of the social rights produce a range of concerns which need to be tackled in close co-operation between countries. The speakers have outlined their work and emphasized that besides the prevention and mitigation measures, the special attention should be paid to the information distribution and educational programmes for population.
III Culture: Challenges and Possibilities of Cooperation
The third working group discussed the possible ways to encourage cultural cooperation. The special attention has been given to the successful cooperation between the universities of applied sciences, which aims at bringing the young people from the countries of Baltic Sea region together and provide them with opportunity to learn the different cultures through co-operative activities. One more interesting topic was brought into focus: creative economy. The speaker has shared how together, artists, cultural non-profit institutions, and creative businesses can produce and distribute cultural goods and services that impact the economy by generating jobs, revenue, and quality of life.
RESULTS OF THE WORKING GROUPS
April 28th, 2010. Environmental panel and documentary
Ms. Daria Gritsenko has introduced 5 questions which can show the way to more effective environmental security building in the Baltic Sea region. First, Ms. Gritsenko emphasizes the importance to understand if there is a common Baltic political space. According to Ms. Gritsenko, the question is crucial, because an absence of common political space is a massive obstacle on the way of saving the Baltic Sea. If we don’t have it we definitely need to create it, Ms. Gritsenko says. The next two questions flow out of the first one: do we have a Baltic governmentality and do we have efficient institutional design/set of institutions? Do we have a trustful relationship between the stakeholders? – was the fourth question. And the last question from Ms. Gritsenko was related to civil societies and civic activism. This question underlined at least two solutions. Civic activism is (1) way towards trustful relations; (2) implementation potential. Clearly not all the societies around the Baltic are at the same level of development. Nordic civic culture is superior, but the question is if this superior culture could take the less developed as partners (also financially).
Mr. Jan Widberg gave an overview of the environmental activities of the Baltic Sea Parliamentary Conference (BSPC). Ever since the beginning, environmental issues have been a mainstay on the agenda of the BSPC. Among the main activities, Mr. Jan Widberg has mentioned Working Group on Eutrophication operated in 2006-2007. A BSPC Working Group served as a kind of target-oriented and temporary political task force to elaborate joint political positions and recommendations on specific issues. The Eutrophication WG aimed at raising the political focus on Eutrophication and at elaborating joint political positions and recommendations. In 2007 Working Group on Energy and Climate Change was established. This WG addressed issues such as renewable energy resources, energy efficiency, low-carbon technologies, the business potential of environmentally friendly technologies, climate-friendly transport systems, etc. In 2009 Working Group on Integrated Maritime Policy was launched. It tackles the issues such as the reduction of pollution and emissions from ships at sea and in ports. It also focuses on maritime safety and security. Mr. Widberg has concluded with the note that parliamentary dialogue has an intrinsic value that promotes transparency and insight into the issues.
Mr. Oleg Bodrov (Greenworld): screening of Wasteland documentary.