On 3 June 2019, Jūrmala hosted the concluding high-level meeting of the Latvian Presidency of the Council of the Baltic Sea States (CBSS), chaired by the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Edgars Rinkēvičs. The event was attended by the Ministers of Foreign Affairs of Estonia, Lithuania, Poland, Finland, and Sweden, the Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation, the Secretary General of the European External Action Service, and other high-ranking officials from CBSS member states.
The participants discussed latest developments and challenges to cooperation in the Baltic Sea region, ensuring balance between political dialogue and practical cooperation in the CBSS, as well as improving cooperation with other regional organisations and cooperation platforms. The Minister of Foreign Affairs of Latvia accentuated the high importance of regional cooperation formats and organisations, including the CBSS, in the development of a strong Baltic Sea region. “The Latvian Presidency of the Council of the Baltic Sea States, in the framework of its priorities, has brought added value to both the organisation and the region as a whole,” Edgars Rinkēvičs underlined.
At the conclusion of the meeting, CBSS member state Foreign Ministers and high-level representatives adopted two documents: the Jūrmala Declaration and the Roadmap of the CBSS reforms for 2018–2020. The Roadmap of the CBSS Reforms, drawn up under the guidance of the Latvian Presidency, adds impetus towards enhancing the organisation’s work in the context of the report by the CBSS Vision Group, “Vision for the Baltic Sea Region beyond 2020”, and its recommendations. The Roadmap underlines the need for the CBSS to become more flexible, innovative and effective, to be able to cooperate with other international partners in the region, whilst not losing its unique features and the focused practical cooperation. The implementation of the Roadmap of the CBSS Reforms will continue under the next, Danish Presidency of the CBSS.
An invited guest to the meeting, the Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of Belarus, Oleg Kravchenko, stressed in his speech the interest of Belarus as a CBSS observer to get actively involved in cooperation projects offered by the CBSS in the field of environment, education, human trafficking, and others.
The co-author of the CBSS Vision Group report, Prof. Žaneta Ozoliņa from the University of Latvia, shared her reflections on the connection between the Vision Group recommendations and the Roadmap of the CBSS Reforms and on the organisation’s future activity.
Latvia holds the CBSS Presidency from 1 July 2018 to 30 June 2019, and will hand it over to Denmark. The priorities of the Latvian CBSS 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. The members of the Council of the Baltic Sea States are the three Baltic States, the five Nordic countries, Germany, Poland, Russia, and the European Commission.
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