On 8 and 9 September, Foreign Minister Urmas Reinsalu is hosting Nordic and Baltic (Nordic-Baltic 8, NB8) foreign ministers in Estonia.
The foreign ministers agreed on a joint statement condemning the poisoning of the Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny with the Novichok nerve agent, and called on Russia to cooperate with an international investigation into who perpetrated the attack. The ministers also called for a strong international response to the poisoning.
The statement expresses support for the people of Belarus and calls for the immediate release of unlawfully detained persons. “The continued violence from the authorities against peaceful demonstrators, threats to use military force, targeting of journalists, revoking foreign media accreditation, blocking of independent media websites and Internet shutdowns are alarming and must end,” the statement says.
The ministers also agreed that a further strengthening of regional economic cooperation could help address the impact caused by the spread of COVID-19. “The current crisis has clearly demonstrated the importance of digitalisation in improving the resilience of countries,” Foreign Minister Reinsalu said. “Digital solutions can help deal with many problems and also speed up recovery.”
The meeting includes a celebration of the 30th anniversary of the NB8 cooperation format. In late 1990, the foreign ministers of Nordic countries and Baltic States met for the first time in Copenhagen and decided to pursue closer cooperation. “The cooperation format of Nordic countries and Baltic States has consistently been a close circle of partners, and this was palpable during a time of great confusion across the world – it is obvious that we are communicating closely,” Reinsalu said. “We also have a lot to discuss now – the situation in Belarus, the poisoning of Alexei Navalny, transatlantic relations, European Union topics and restrictions on movement due to COVID-19. The shared view of the Nordic countries and Baltic States – especially when it comes to complicated issues – is crucial.”
According to Reinsalu, the cooperation format is very important for Estonia and should be celebrated. “Thirty years ago, Europe was going through a period that demanded forceful decisions and largely defined subsequent relations between states.”
As the 2020 coordinator of the format, Estonia is organising the annual meeting of NB8 ministers this year, and the agenda includes regional and global foreign and security policy, European topics and connectivity (the climate, energy, digital affairs). Working sessions were held in the framework of the meeting. The ministers also took part in a joint discussion on cyber risks, co-organised by the Estonian company CybExer Technologies.
The joint statement in full: https://vm.ee/et/uudised/joint-statement-nordic-baltic-nb8-foreign-minis...
The press conference is available for watching: https://youtu.be/sI1PO82aH3s
Ministry of Foreign Affairs
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