Council of Baltic Sea States holds first ministerial session in nine years

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‘The war in Ukraine has made it all the more important for the remaining members of the Council to meet,’ said Minister of Foreign Affairs Anniken Huitfeldt.

Minister of Foreign Affairs Huitfeldt convened a meeting of the members of the Council of the Baltic Sea States (CBSS) on 24­–25 May. This is the first ministerial meeting of the CBSS in nine years. Foreign ministers and high-level representatives of the Nordic and Baltic countries, Germany, Poland and the EU met in Kristiansand, Norway, to discuss the situation in Ukraine. The Council discussed the repercussions of the war, cooperation with Ukraine as a CBSS observer state, Russia’s withdrawal from the Council, and future regional cooperation. Also on the agenda were the need to accelerate the green transition, promote youth cooperation, and ensure the safety and security of the region’s inhabitants. This year marks the 30th anniversary of the establishment of the CBSS.

The CBSS members agreed on a joint declaration, referred to as the Kristiansand Declaration, which, among other things, expresses continued support for Ukraine and recognition of the country’s efforts to defend its independence and freedom and the common values for which Europe stands.

‘The discussions here in Kristiansand have culminated in a joint declaration by the 11 members. The Council of the Baltic Sea States has served the region well as a forum for both political dialogue and practical cooperation. The circumstances have changed, but the cooperation’s values and goals stand firm. The Council has reaffirmed that its relations with Russia and Belarus will remain severed until cooperation based on the fundamental principles of international law is once again possible,’ said Ms Huitfeldt.

Read the Kristiansand Declaration here.

The CBSS was established in 1992 following an initiative by Denmark and Germany. The presidency rotates between the member states on an annual basis. Although Norway and Iceland do not border on the Baltic Sea, they have been members from the start together with the other Nordic and Baltic countries and Germany, Poland and Russia. The EU is also represented through the European External Action Service (EEAS). In March 2022, Russia was suspended from participating in Council activities. In May, Russia announced its withdrawal from the CBSS.

For more information about the CBSS and the Norwegian Presidency see the website Norwegian Presidency 2021-2022.