On 1-4 November in Copenhagen, the 73rd Session of the Nordic Council took place. Members of the Baltic Assembly joined the Session on 2-3 November to debate such important topics as comprehensive defence, foreign affairs, international cooperation, and the lessons that the Nordic Region can learn from the coronavirus crisis, as well as how can cooperation be strengthened in the future. NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg also joined for the guest speaker debate.
Vice President of the Baltic Assembly Jānis Vucāns said that the Baltic states have shown great examples of efficient coordination, timely exchange of information on epidemiological situations and close personal contacts at various levels. Those issues also had been regularly discussed in various meetings of Baltic Assembly and its committees. It was also noted that the Baltic and Nordic countries share common goals in security, economics, and politics, as well as interest in the provision of stability, security, and welfare in the Baltic Sea region and beyond. “Overall, the crisis that we all have experienced showed us that close relations among the Baltic and Nordic countries continue to be a very important tool for reaching common goals. We should acknowledge and use the geographical proximity and the deep links we share with each other to survive the ongoing pandemic and to get back on track,” said Jānis Vucāns.
He also noted that in 2021, the situation regarding COVID-19 in the Baltic states was stable for a while, but in autumn the situation dramatically worsened. Unfortunately, recently the Baltic states had the highest rates of COVID-19 infection in Europe. Therefore, in the current very hard situation, the Baltic countries are thankful for the help from the Nordic Countries. For example, Latvia is especially grateful to Sweden and Finland for the recently gifted additional equipment for COVID-19 patient care to support the healthcare system.
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg joined the Session and informed that the format of the Nordic Council is important, since it builds trust, peace, and friendship, which is needed in a time when countries need to cooperate more. The European Union and NATO give benefits to stability and trust, friendship, and peace. “Our task is to continue to maintain deep peace and do the right things to support peace in our part of the world,” Jens Stoltenberg said. Discussions included the topic of China, climate change, arms control, cooperation and more. The debates concluded with the quote: “The message is to stand together – that is the best way forward.”