Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock is to travel to Kristiansand in Norway today to attend the 19th Ministerial Session of the Council of the Baltic Sea States to be held on Tuesday and Wednesday. The talks will focus on the security situation in the Baltic Sea region following Russia’s war of aggression in Ukraine. The green and digital transformation in the Baltic Sea region is also high on the meeting’s agenda.
Thirty years after its founding, the Council of the Baltic Sea States is now at a crucial juncture in its history. The Council was set up at the initiative of Germany and Denmark in 1992 when only these two countries were member states of the European Communities. One of the main reasons it was founded was to set up a regional cooperation platform after the upheaval experienced at the end of the Cold War. All the Baltic Sea countries and other nations were gathered around the table, including Russia.
Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine also created a new situation for the Council, and the other members reacted unequivocally. On 3 March 2022, the foreign ministers of Germany, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Iceland, Latvia, Lithuania, Norway, Poland and Sweden, as well as the High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, decided to suspend both Russian involvement in all CBSS activities and Belarus’ observer status. For its part, Russia declared its withdrawal from the organisation just a few days ago on 17 May.
German Presidency of the Council of the Baltic Sea States from July
The meeting in Kristiansand is to be held under the Norwegian Presidency and then the baton will be passed on. Germany is to assume the rotating CBSS Presidency for one year on 1 July. This means Germany will assume responsibility for the Baltic Sea region at a crucial juncture. During its Presidency, Germany is keen to advance inter alia cooperation between Baltic Sea states in the energy sector, particularly when it comes to offshore wind energy. As a result of Russia’s war against Ukraine, extending interconnectivity and renewable energies in the Baltic Sea region has become an even more important security policy issue. The focus is on extending renewable energies and energy infrastructure in the region to make an important contribution to combating climate change and to make Europe less dependent on oil and gas from Russia.
Norway and Germany – close partners on foreign policy and energy
In addition to attending the Council of the Baltic Sea States Ministerial Session, Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock will also meet her Norwegian colleague, Anniken Huitfeldt, in Kristiansand. Relations between Germany and Norway are close and characterised by great trust. When it comes to foreign policy, Germany and Norway share many priorities and positions, and cooperate intensively. Norway is engaged above all to promote peace and mediate conflicts around the world.
On energy, Norway and Germany enjoy close and successful ties. On Wednesday, the two Foreign Ministers will visit two businesses near Kristiansand which are active in the energy sector and are making a concrete contribution to the European energy transition and to European sovereignty: in the areas of efficient steering of wind plants and synthetic production of graphite powders as a key component for battery-cell production. To date, 90% of global needs have been imported from China.