October 2016

Dear Baltic Sea friend,

The CBSS autumn season comes with many changes: not only has the Icelandic CBSS Presidency started but we are also welcoming our new Director General, Ambassador Maira Mora. We invite you to read all our news stories below. 


Icelandic Minister for Foreign Affairs Lilja Alfreðsdóttir with the CBSS Secretariat Director General Ambassador Maira Mora

CBSS welcomes new Director General Ambassador Maira Mora

Ambassador Maira Mora is the new Director General of the Permanent International Secretariat of the Council of the Baltic Sea States as of 1 September 2016.

With more than twenty years of diplomatic and foreign policy experience, Ambassador Mora will be working with the 11 Member States of the Council of the Baltic Sea States alongside the European Union, coordinating the work of the organisation in line with the three CBSS long-term priorities - Regional Identity, Sustainable & Prosperous Region and Safe & Secure Region and managing the CBSS Secretariat in Stockholm.

Previous to joining the CBSS, Ambassador Mora was the Head of the EU Delegation in Belarus. As the representative of the EU, she coordinated and pursued EU policies in all areas, promoting EU principles and values, ensuring EU visibility and developing cooperation projects.

Within the Latvian Ministry of Foreign Affairs she has held the position of Ambassador at Large, Head of the Policy Planning Unit, as well as having been Ambassador to Belarus, to Lithuania and the Deputy Head of the Latvian Delegation to the OSCE in Vienna. She has also been Councellor within the Latvian State Secretary’s Bureau, the European Correspondent at the Latvian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, as well as a member of the crisis control expert commission at the Latvian Prime Minister’s Bureau.

Ambassador Maira Mora holds a degree from the University of Latvia, Department of Foreign Languages, and has been educated at the Swiss International Relations University, Graduate Institute of International Studies in Geneva and the International Security Studies College in Germany. Her expertise is linked to security policy, development and economic cooperation, as well as neighbourhood policy.

Alongside her native Latvian, Maira Mora is fluent in English, Russian, French, German, and has knowledge of Italian, Belarusian and Lithuanian.

Maira Mora has a keen interest in classical music, particularly opera. She plays tennis regularly and is quite the downhill skier.


Launch of the Icelandic Presidency of the CBSS

The Icelandic Presidency of the Council of the Baltic Sea States was launched with an official handover from the Polish Presidency at the Almedalen Political Week (Visby, Sweden) on 1 July 2016, hosted by the Governor of Gotland, Ms Cecilia Schelin Seidegård. Represented by Ambassador Estrid Brekkan and Ambassador Gudmundur Árni Stefánsson, Icelandic Chair of the CBSS Committee of Senior Officials, Iceland introduced its presidency priorities – equality, children, democracy – and emphasised the commitment to the Baltic Sea Region and continued collaboration on all levels. 

On 31 August 2016, the Icelandic Embassy in Stockholm invited ambassadors of the CBSS Member and Observer States to a briefing on the priorities of the Icelandic CBSS Presidency. Jacek Sladewski, Deputy Head of Mission of the Embassy of the Republic of Poland in Sweden, summarised the accomplishments of the previous Polish CBSS Presidency, highlighting both achievements and challenges. Iceland, as well as Poland, agreed on strengthening high-level political dialogue and the need to improve the CBSS visibility in the future. In addition, Ambassador Gudmundur Árni Stefánsson explained the thoughts behind the logo of the Icelandic CBSS Presidency: to represent smiling children, who are facing a world of openness, freedom and safety, which can be only achieved through a democratic society where everyone has a voice. The different colours represent gender equality, diversity for all and also the colours of the Icelandic flag.

On 26-27 September in Reykjavik the Icelandic Presidency of the CBSS hosted the first CSO meeting and a High-Level Panel Discussion – 25 Years Nordic-Baltic Cooperation at the Nordic House. The panel discussion was opened by the Minister for Foreign Affairs of Iceland, H. E. Lilja Alfreðsdóttir, with a keynote speech by the President of Iceland, H. E. Guðni Th. Jóhannesson, marking the 25th anniversary of the Icelandic recognition of the re-independence of the Baltic States. Moderated by Ambassador Guðmundur Árni Stefánsson, Chair of the CBSS Committee of Senior Officials and Bogi Ágústsson, journalist at the Icelandic National Broadcasting Services, the panel included H.E. Lilja Alfreðsdóttir, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Iceland, H.E. Linas Antanas Linkevicius, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Lithuania, H.E. Edgars Rinkēvičs, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Latvia & H. E. Jürgen Ligi, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Estonia. The discussions centred around the current and potential future formats of Nordic-Baltic cooperation.


Summer universities bringing together students across the Baltic Sea Region

Since 2014, the CBSS has been organising Summer Universities with the aim to bring together students and teachers with different academic background from the Baltic Sea Region to elaborate on different topics and issues of concern to the BSR. This year, three Summer Universities have taken place: at Södertörn University (Sweden), University of Agder (Norway) and Saint-Petersburg State University of Economics (Russia). While cultural memory in the Baltic Sea Region was discussed at Södertörn University, the focus at University of Adger was on macro-regional and intergovernmental cooperation from a political science perspective, whereas at Saint-Petersburg State University of Economics, energy markets and economic relations were discussed.

Given the multi-disciplinarity amongst the students and teachers at all three Summer Universities, the events led to a multi-faceted debate on the current trends, challenges and opportunities in the Baltic Sea Region, resulting in interesting findings which will also be valuable for the CBSS work in the three priority areas: Regional Identity, Sustainable & Prosperous Region and Safe & Secure Region.


New Report on Sustainable Development in the Baltic Sea Region

“Assessing the Status of Sustainable Development in the Baltic Sea Region: A Macro-Regional Perspective” is a publication commissioned by the CBSS  Expert Group on Sustainable Development – Baltic 2030 and compiled by the Baltic University Programme and the Uppsala Centre for Sustainable Development.

This background study is aimed at enabling fruitful cooperation between the Baltic Sea States in implementing and pursuing the 2030 Agenda and the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals, and serves as a resource for developing governance for sustainable development in the region. The report also includes suggestions on how to organise the work for the global SD Goals in the future. Together with two special studies on climate change and sustainable consumption and production, the report gives a broad overview of the state of affairs in the BSR and summarises the knowledge in relation to governance features, which are viewed as central for enhancing sustainable development governance capacity.

You can access and download all three parts of the publications here.


Baltic TRAM gathers partners in Stockholm      

On 5 – 6 September 2016 the CBSS Secretariat hosted the second Baltic TRAM Partner Meeting. In the opening speech the new Director General of the CBSS Secretariat Ambassador Maira Mora outlined the importance of Baltic TRAM in the context of the recently launched CBSS Science, Research and Innovation Agenda.

Moreover, the meeting served as a timely occasion to inform the project partners about the preparatory work underway related to the CBSS report, which will cover smart specialisation and innovation matters in the CBSS Member States. In addition, the CBSS Secretariat elaborated on the relevance of Baltic TRAM deliverables in the context of attaining internationally set goals within the framework of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal № 9 “Industry, Innovation & Infrastructure” and the OECD Innovation Strategy 2015. Other sessions of the meeting were dedicated to the exchange of information regarding the development of a common concept of Industrial Research Centre (IReC), as well as aspects, which should be taken into consideration regarding the operational stage of IReCs in Baltic TRAM partnering countries.

Furthermore, on 9 November 2016 Baltic TRAM will be discussed during the EU Strategy for the Baltic Sea Region Forum in Stockholm during the session “Achieving knowledge-driven innovation and growth in the Baltic Sea Region” with a focus on how public and private sectors can pool together for joint innovation and regional prosperity, and examines the structures and funding needed for stimulating a knowledge-driven economy.


Balticlab wraps up 4.0 with a final showcase at the Strelka Institute for Media, Architecture and Design in Moscow

On 7-12 September in Moscow, Balticlab, the innovation programme for creatives and entrepreneurs, concluded its 4th programme year. After having met in Stockholm, formed groups in Vilnius and worked closely together in Kiev, the 40  Balticlab 4.0 participants finalized their projects they had been working on throughout the year  and presented them at an open lecture at the Strelka Institute for Media, Architecture and Design in Moscow.

This year’s participants of the programme came from Belarus, Estonia, Finland, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Sweden, Russia, Ukraine and also - for the first time - participants from Germany joined the programme thanks to a new collaboration with the Goethe Institute. 

Balticlab also organised two public events as a part of the Strelka Institute Summer Programme. The lecture “Creative industries for regions” on 8 September, introduced the Balticlab programme and the work of the Swedish architects Andreas Martin-Löf and Fanny Stenberg,along with a discussion on how our living environments affect our creativity and way of living. Where as at  the public closing event on 11 September, the six Balticlab groups presented their final projects, talked about the further course of their projects and invited the audience to try out the light installation experience developed by the LIT project and share their personal thoughts on feeling at home through the story collection project HOME. 

Read more about the projects here.