The Finnish Presidency of the CBSS for the period 2013-2014 began on 1 July 2013. Besides continuation of the major initiatives undertaken by the Russian Presidency, the Finnish Presidency placed particular stress on working on issues related to maritime policy, civil protection and people to people contacts. Click here to see the Finnish Presidency e-publication.
A highlight of the Finnish Presidency was the 5th Annual Forum of the European Union Strategy for the Baltic Sea Region held together with the 16th Baltic Development Forum Summit in Turku in the first week of June 2014. A high level of Finnish government representation, including the Prime Minister, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Minister of Economy, Minister of European Affairs and Trade and the Minister of Environment were present and gave presentations at plenary as well as the Prime Minister of Estonia. Furhermore, the Fiulbaltica Concert was held in Turku on the 1 and 2 June, which included young musicians from 7 Baltic Sea States as well as over 200 participants, which was given special support from the MFA.
An example of the highly praised work undertaken in the first priority of Maritime Policy was the Conference on the LNG fuelled cruiser Viking Grace, 16 January 2014 entitled Baltic Sea Shipping – Sail into the future! Discussions focused on the future possibilities of green technology and the use of alternative fuels in maritime transportation. This was complemented by the 10th Intelligent Transportation System (ITS) European Congress 2014, Helsinki which was held from the 16-19 June. The Finnish CBSS Presidency in cooperation with other actors likewise organised a seminar on ITS in Logistics in the Northern Dimension, Barents and Arctic Area on 18 June 2014, thus complementing the common goal of a clean, safe and smart Baltic Sea. A Seminar on the Role of EU Transport Corridors for Enhanced Growth, Helsinki in mid-February 2014 on the role of EU transport corridors relative to economic growth and a collaboration between the Baltic Sea Parliamentary Conference (BSPC), the CBSS and the Baltic Sea Region Energy Cooperation (BASREC) on Energy Efficiency held in Helsinki in March 2014 on the implementation of the report on green growth and energy efficiency prepared by the Baltic Sea Parliamentary Conference further strengthened this synergy.
The second priority of civil security was implemented through the work of the numerous bodies in the field and affiliated to the CBSS. Three high meetings took place – the Baltic Sea Region Border Control Cooperation convened a Heads of Border Control Cooperation to discuss specific measures in Helsinki in November, the Civil Protection Network gathered the Director Generals in May and earlier in the spring the Task Force against Trafficking in Human Beings alongside the Expert Group on Cooperation for Children at Risk held a high level conference with representation by the Finnish National Ombudsman and the European Commission Anti-Trafficking Coordinator. Another concrete example was the BalticSea Maritime Incident Response Survey (BSMIR). A maritime search and rescue project to identify the Baltic Sea States’ national preparedness plans for large-scale maritime accidents – the publication of the final report came out on 13 May 2014.
People to people contacts
The third priority was specifically highlighted at the XII NGO Forum in Turku where the former Finnish President Tarja Halonen gave the keynote address and a panel on EU-Russia civil society network cooperation was held. Culture is important here as a starter for cooperation and to this end the Baltic Sea Cultural Routes, Eastern Viking Forum in Kotka on 20–21 May 2014 focused on coherence in the cultural sector, specifically how cultural actors representing the Northern Dimension, the Council of the Baltic Sea States and the Barents Euro-Arctic Council can come together to strengthen coherence and impact.
Access the Finnish Presidency Annual Report here.