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Understanding through dialogue: Gabriel intends to revive Council of the Baltic Sea States

21.06.2017 - Article

The Council of the Baltic Sea States, which promotes the dialogue between Russia and the other Baltic Sea states, has not met at the political level since the outbreak of the Ukraine crisis. Foreign Minister Gabriel travelled to Reykjavik for an anniversary meeting on Tuesday (20 June).

Foreign Minister Gabriel and his counterparts: family photo at the meeting of the Council of the Baltic Sea States
Foreign Minister Gabriel and his counterparts: family photo at the meeting of the Council of the Baltic Sea States© Michael Gottschalk/photothek.de

Foreign Minister Gabriel attended a meeting of Foreign Ministers of the Council of the Baltic Sea States in Reykjavik on Tuesday (20 June). It had been four years since the body last met at ministerial level. Russia’s illegal annexation of Crimea in 2014 has made it impossible to continue everyday cooperation in the forum. “It is thanks to the Icelanders that we have met once again despite this difficult situation”, said Gabriel in Reykjavik.

Dialogue – also with Russia

Symbol of freedom: Foreign Minister Gabriel standing beside a section of the Berlin Wall in Reykjavik
Symbol of freedom: Foreign Minister Gabriel standing beside a section of the Berlin Wall in Reykjavik© Michael Gottschalk/photothek.de

At the meeting in Reykjavik, Foreign Minister Gabriel called for cooperation in the Council of the Baltic Sea States to be strengthened. “I very much hope that this was a new beginning”, said the Foreign Minister. Gabriel intends to use the Council of the Baltic Sea States as an opportunity to promote cooperation and dialogue – also with Russia. Since the outbreak of the crisis in Ukraine, the Council of the Baltic Sea States is one of the few remaining dialogue forums that Russia still attends. Cooperation in this forum is therefore an important step towards rebuilding lost trust in the Baltic Sea region.

Germany is already supporting numerous project initiatives of the Council of the Baltic Sea States, for example in the area of youth exchanges, academia and environmental protection, as well as the joint fight against human trafficking.

Cooperation in the Baltic Sea region is becoming increasingly important also as far as the European Union is concerned. Over 800 visitors attended the Annual Forum of the EU Strategy for the Baltic Sea Region at the Federal Foreign Office just one week prior to this meeting.

Germany as a founding member

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Cooperation in the Baltic Sea Region

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