From 31 October to 2 November 2023, the 75th Session of the Nordic Council took place in Oslo, Norway. Vice President of the Baltic Assembly Jānis Vucāns addressed the Nordic colleagues and said that during these turbulent times, it is more important than ever to keep Ukraine on the international agenda. "We need to say but also show that we stand with Ukraine no matter what and that our countries will continue the military, financial and humanitarian help until the victory of Ukraine," said Jānis Vucāns.
He also reminded the participants of the Session that the parliamentarians in the Baltic and Nordic countries are the ones who lead by example. "We must avoid direct or indirect activities that can legitimize Russia’s aggression on Ukraine and put at risk our good work. We have to be extra careful about the messages we deliver through our activities," said the Vice President.
President of the Nordic Council Jorodd Asphjell reminded that a secure, green and young Nordic Region was the priority of the Norwegian presidency in the Nordic Council. He highlighted that Nordic cooperation is closer than ever, especially in issues concerning security and climate change mitigation in the region. Jorodd Asphjell also noted the serious challenges that have arisen from the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
Secretary General of NATO Jens Stoltenberg in his opening speech at the Session pleaded for people not to let the war in Gaza overshadow Ukraine. "Unfortunately, we cannot choose to deal only with one crisis at a time. The war in Gaza must not lead to a weakening of our will and ability to support Ukraine. A new winter is approaching, and we must expect new attacks against energy supplies and other critical infrastructure. There are no signs that Russia is planning for peace. On the contrary, they are planning for more war," said Jens Stoltenberg. He also highlighted the importance of Ukraine remaining strong on the battlefield to ensure that when the war is over, the country can also be strong at the negotiating table.
NATO Secretary General welcomed the fact that the entire Nordic Region will soon be in NATO, contributing also to the security in the Baltic-Nordic region. "It strengthens our ability to defend the Nordic region. It strengthens our ability to be present in the northern regions. And it strengthens our ability to come to the aid of our Baltic neighbours," said Jens Stoltenberg. He also added that all NATO countries are in agreement that Ukraine should also become a member state. "Russia has lost. It has lost tens of thousands of soldiers. It has lost large amounts of military material. It has lost political influence and is increasingly isolated. The invasion of Ukraine is a strategic defeat for Russia," noted Jens Stoltenberg.
Security and defence were high on the agenda at the Session. On the margins of the Session, the Nordic prime ministers and the Nordic Council met to discuss how the Nordic Region should act in an unsettled world. The Prime Minister of Norway Jonas Gahr Støre opened the debate by saying: "Finland’s and Sweden’s membership in NATO will strengthen our security. We’re in the midst of a new, historical situation. It’s opened the door to closer cooperation – also within the overall defence, social security, and emergency preparedness. Norway wishes to strengthen cooperation within the civilian element of NATO’s host nation support concept. Critical infrastructure, logistics, and supplies on both the military and civilian sides should, as much as possible, be assessed in a Nordic context," said Jonas Gahr Støre.
The main theme for the Session was a secure, green and young Nordic Region. The parliamentarians and representatives of the governments also discussed such topics as the Nordic countries in NATO, how to speed up the green transition, and young people’s participation in democracy.
The Session also featured a seminar on the profound impact of artificial intelligence on geopolitics and democracy. During the Seminar, Senior Researcher at the Norwegian Institute of International Affairs Lars Gjesvik said that AI has the potential to cause great harm to political processes, however, the strength of democracy should not be underestimated.
In 2024, Iceland will take over the presidency at the Nordic Council. It will place a special emphasis on peace and security in the Arctic.
The Baltic Assembly at the Session was represented by Vice President Jānis Vucāns, Member of the Presidium Enn Eesmaa, and Member of the Security and Defence Committee Andrius Mazuronis.
Read more about the Session of the Nordic Council here.
© Stine Østby/Norden.org & Morten Brakestad/Stortinget