German Presidency of the Council of the Baltic Sea States 2011/2012
On 30 June 2012, Germany’s one-year Presidency of the Council of the Baltic Sea States (CBSS) came to an end. Our Presidency focused on the modernization of the south-east Baltic Sea Region, the use of the CBSS as a platform for energy security and the greater involvement of Russia in cooperation in the Baltic Sea Region.
Key events and highlights during our Presidency were:
The Baltic Sea States Summit in Stralsund
Participants in the Baltic Sea States Summit at the Ozeaneum in Stralsund
At the invitation of Federal Chancellor Angela Merkel, the summit of Heads of Government of the Baltic Sea countries and the President of the European Commission was held in Stralsund (Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania). The current challenges facing the region were discussed at the highest level at the Summit. Key issues included cooperation in energy security in the Baltic Sea Region, the impact of ageing societies on the region as well as the contributions by Baltic Sea countries to Europe’s competitiveness.
Furthermore, the Summit participants agreed to make available resources to support projects aimed at enhancing the competitiveness and attractiveness of the south-east Baltic Sea Region. This includes strengthening the cooperation of Kaliningrad Oblast and other regions of the Russian Federation in the Baltic Sea Region with their neighbours.
Germany handed over the Presidency for 2012/2013 to the Russian Federation. Finland offered to organize the 10th summit meeting of the Heads of State and Government of the Baltic Sea Region.
Baltic Sea Region Energy Cooperation (BASREC) in Berlin
At the invitation of Vice-Chancellor Rösler, the eleven Energy Ministers of the CBSS member states and Commissioner Oettinger discussed, among other things, greater incentives to encourage pension funds and insurance companies to invest in grid expansion. They agreed on the continuation of a BASREC project fund, which will support studies on current issues concerning energy infrastructure and supply.
Baltic Sea Days in Berlin
The Baltic Sea Days, attended by about 2000 people and one of the highlights of the German CBSS Presidency 2011/2012, took place in Berlin from 23 to 27 April. Celebrations, exhibitions, readings and conferences made tangible the manifold and intensive ties between Germany and its CBSS partners.
© photothek / Trutschel
On 24 April, the Baltic Sea Days were formally celebrated by around 900 guests at the Federal Foreign Office, where the keynote speaker was Federal President Joachim Gauck. The President outlined his own special link to the Baltic Sea: he said that until 1990 it had been a “closely-guarded sea” for GDR citizens and that the coastal inhabitants of the Baltic Sea countries “sometimes felt like prisoners”.
In her address, Minister of State Pieper stated that Europe was created at the Baltic Sea; after all, she went on to say, the historic Hanseatic League was the precursor of modern European integration. Even if the focus had been on trade and the economy in those days, the Hanseatic League had linked peoples and built bridges between cultures.
The Baltic Sea Crime Fiction Festival at the Foreign Office showed that the High North can be a source of great suspense. Well-known crime novelists from Scandinavia (including Jussi Adler-Olsen) read from their books. The event was rounded off with the première showing of a crime story in Germany.
Conferences on numerous issues such as combating climate change, research cooperation projects and a joint virtual history book were held. The programme also included conferences with international experts, a dialogue among parliamentarians from Baltic Sea countries, the Baltic Sea NGO Forum and a youth forum.
The exhibition “20 years of the Council of the Baltic Sea States” in the atrium of the Federal Foreign Office presented the broad spectrum of Baltic Sea cooperation projects in the 20 years since the organization was founded in 1992. It illustrated how important the CBSS has been, and indeed still is, for bringing the region closer together.
Foreign Ministers’ meeting at Schloss Plön
Meeting of the Council of the Baltic Sea States
The first political highlight of Germany’s CBSS Presidency was the extraordinary meeting of CBSS Foreign Ministers held at Schloss Plön in Schleswig-Holstein on 5 February. On that occasion, Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle commended the contribution which the CBSS has made towards integration in the Baltic Sea Region during the last 20 years.
The Foreign Ministers’ meeting focused on energy security and the modernization of the south-east Baltic Sea Region, an area covering Poland, Kaliningrad and Lithuania. Regional goals include better connecting Kaliningrad with its neighbours through projects such as concrete cooperation on tourism and preserving our shared cultural heritage. To this end, a project coordinator based in Kaliningrad will draw up concrete proposals.
The CBSS Foreign Ministers adopted a joint declaration on energy security in the Baltic Sea Region.
Westerwelle welcomed not only representatives of the European Union and the countries bordering the Baltic, but also the two founding fathers of the Council of the Baltic Sea States, former Foreign Ministers Hans-Dietrich Genscher of Germany and Uffe Ellemann-Jensen of Denmark. The CBSS was founded in Copenhagen on 5/6 March 1992 at their initiative.
Involvement of the north German federal states
The three north German federal states Hamburg, Schleswig-Holstein and Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania played an active role in Germany’s CBSS Presidency by organizing major events on specific issues.
The Free and Hanseatic City of Hamburg hosted a major Baltic Sea conference entitled “From Education to Employment – Optimising Transition Management”.
Furthermore, the final conference of the Baltic Sea Labour Network and an expert conference on disaster relief and civil protection were held in Hamburg.
In addition to the celebration to mark the 20th anniversary of the CBSS which has already been mentioned, the 20th anniversary of the Ars Baltica cultural network was also celebrated at Schloss Plön in Schleswig-Holstein. The future of Baltic Sea cooperation was analysed critically at the Baltic Media Forum in Kiel.
Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania played its part by organizing a high-profile conference called “Building a Baltic Sea Tourism Region” in the Warnemünde district of Rostock. Furthermore, the Land hosted the 10th ScanBalt Forum on health and the environment.
All three north German federal states organized own events at the Baltic Sea Days in Berlin.
- More information on the EU Strategy for the Baltic Sea Region
- Information from the EEAS on the Northern Dimension
Last updated 02.08.2012