On 19 February 2019, Riga hosted the fourth meeting of the Committee of Senior Officials (CSO) held under the Latvian Presidency of the Council of the Baltic Sea States (CBSS). The CSO supervises and coordinates the work in the CBSS format, considers and offers recommendations on the activities of the CBSS expert groups and task forces. Representatives from the Ministries of Foreign Affairs nominated by the organisation’s Member States and the leadership of the CBSS Secretariat.
The Chairman of the CBSS CSO, Ambassador-at-Large Juris Bone, led a discussion on the CBSS reform plan, at which the members of the CSO shared views on the future of the political dialogue within the CBSS in the context of a report by the CBSS Vision Group, “Vision for the Baltic Sea Region beyond 2020”, and its recommendations. Work on the CBSS reform plan will also be carried on at the next CSO meetings under the Latvian Presidency with the focus on future prospects for practical cooperation in the CBSS.
The CSO reviewed preparations for high-level events to be held under the Latvian Presidency in Riga. An international conference “Human trafficking – a crime with too few convictions and too many victims” will take place on 21-22 February. The event aims at improving understanding in the Baltic Sea Region of the rights of human trafficking victims, strengthening investigation and criminal prosecution, facilitating more effective hearings of cases in the region’s courts.
Next, on 22-23 February, the University of Latvia Academic Centre for Natural Sciences will host the events of the CBSS Baltic Sea Science Day, a high-level meeting of officials from CBSS Member State ministries responsible for science, and the Baltic Science Network Final Conference. The participants also intend to share ideas on how to intensify cooperation and enhance the visibility of the Baltic Sea region as a leading science-research-innovation area.
At the CSO meeting, the European External Action Service Policy Officer, Aaretti Siitonen, presented the EU’s Northern Dimension Policy Framework Document. The participants of the discussion shared views on common interests, synergies and the need to avoid overlapping with other cooperation formats in the region.
The country presiding over the CBSS takes care of the organisation of the CBSS CSO meetings and drawing up their agendas. The Latvian Presidency has held four CSO meetings so far, and two more will be organised before the end of the presidency term. Latvia will hold the CBSS Presidency until 30 June 2019, when Denmark takes over. The main priorities of the Latvian Presidency are integrity and social security; the region’s sustainability, spatial development, climate change; and the preservation and digitalisation of cultural heritage. This is Latvia’s third Presidency of the CBSS since the Council was established in 1992.
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