On August 3 at the Nordic-Baltic-U.S. academic meeting in the framework of the Enhanced Partnership in Northern Europe (e-PINE) in Vilnius, Lithuanian Minister of Foreign Affairs Audronius Ažubalis stressed the importance of energy and transport projects in the Nordic and Baltic region and called for continued unanimous support of the process of democratisation in Eastern Partnership countries.
«The main challenge we are facing today is the consolidation of democratic reforms in the Eastern Partnership countries. It is of our interest that these countries become completely democratic, competitive and oriented to closer relations with the EU,» Ažubalis said.
According to him, Eastern Partnership and Russia should remain an important part of the coordinated policies of the Nordic and Baltic region.
«We also seek to develop transparent, equal and constructive relations with Russia, based on confidence and mutual respect,» the Foreign Minister said.
Ažubalis presented the academic community the achievements of the Nordic Baltic Eight (NB8), the activities of which are coordinated by Lithuania this year.
«Among other areas, Nordic and Baltic countries cooperate in the fields of coordinated diplomatic representation, civil protection and cyber security. We also try to explore possibilities of a single digital market,» Ažubalis said.
The Minister believes that over the last decade the Nordic and Baltic countries became more integrated financially, as well as economically.
«Eight Nordic and Baltic countries constitute the 5th largest economy in the European Union and 10th largest global economy. In the context of European economic difficulties, the Nordic and Baltic countries illustrated financial discipline and maintained the goal to become one of the most competitive regions of Europe,» the Foreign Minister stressed.
The academic meeting «Lights and Shadows in Northern Europe: security and identity patterns» brought together political science experts, who called for the strengthening of the Nordic-Baltic cooperation in the fields of security, economy and energy.
The discussion that was organised on the eve of the Nordic Baltic Eight (NB8) Foreign Ministers’ meeting focused on security of the Baltic Sea region, economic challenges and energy security issues.
The event of the Enhanced Partnership in Northern Europe (e-PINE) was attended by representatives from the NB8 countries and the U.S. Lithuanian Vice-Minister of Foreign Affairs Vytautas Leškevičius and Ramūnas Vilpišauskas, Director of the Institute of International Relations and Political Science of Vilnius University, welcomed the guests.
The e-PINE is a U.S. and Nordic and Baltic cooperation initiative, officially launched in Washington, D.C., in 2003. The political science experts meeting is held annually in the country that coordinates the e-PINE activities.