The Council of the Baltic Sea States (CBSS) had been scheduled to meet on the Danish island of Bornholm, the home of Danish Foreign Minister Jeppe Kofod. Denmark currently holds the Presidency of the Council of the Baltic Sea States, and for the first time in years the Council assembled in full force: Germany, Russia, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Latvia, Poland, Norway, Lithuania, Iceland and Sweden - 11 countries in all - took part in the virtual meeting. The EU, likewise a member, was also represented. Foreign Minister Heiko Maas is confident that this is a forum with a future.
Meeting regional challenges together
Today’s virtual meeting primarily addressed common regional challenges that can only be solved in the Baltic Sea region by means of cooperation. The key environmental topic was the promotion of renewable energy in North and Baltic Sea ports and offshore. Expanding production and capacities will make a vital contribution to the European Energy Transition 2030 and is thus also central to meeting Germany and the EU’s sustainability targets. The ministers specifically addressed the issue of old ammunition dumped in the Baltic Sea and what can be done to mitigate its impact on the environment.
The CBSS also agreed to cooperate closely to fight the COVID-19 pandemic. The member states intend to exchange best practices and to further enhance scientific cooperation. The CBSS also wants to take joint action against organised crime.
The Danish Presidency launched the Baltic Sea Youth Platform to encourage young people to become more involved in the Baltic Sea region. Foreign Minister Maas welcomed the new platform, which Germany will help fund to the tune of 50,000 euro per year.
Bornholm Declaration adopted
The CBSS is gaining renewed momentum as a forum for dialogue, as shown by the participation today of all member states and, above all, the adoption of the Bornholm Declaration. The Council of the Baltic Sea States was founded in 1992 in order to support the political and economic transformation of the Baltic Sea region. During today’s video conference, Foreign Minister Maas showed participants a handwritten note from “Uffe” (Uffe Ellemann-Hensen, the Danish Foreign Minister of the time) to “Hans-Dietrich” (Hans-Dietrich Genscher). The CBSS was founded in Copenhagen in March 1992, at a conference held at the invitation of the two foreign ministers. In the note, Uffe asked Hans-Dietrich if he agreed with the idea of establishing a Baltic Sea council. Things came full circle, as it were, today, since this meeting marked the conclusion of the 2018-2020 reforms of the CBSS. The countries of the CBSS are now better placed to work more on interdisciplinary joint Projects.