Joint statement from Nordic-Baltic (NB8) Foreign Ministers’ annual meeting

Published

08.-09.09.2020 Tallinn, Estonia.

Statement by Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Iceland, Latvia, Lithuania, Norway and Sweden.

The Foreign Ministers of the Nordic-Baltic 8 - Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Iceland, Latvia, Lithuania, Norway and Sweden - condemn in the strongest possible terms the usage of a chemical nerve agent of the Novichok group to poison the Russian opposition leader Alexey Navalny. Ministers call upon Russia and the international community to initiate an impartial and international investigation that would include the experts of the OPCW. Those responsible for the attack must be brought to justice.

NB8 Foreign Ministers also call for a strong and joint international response to the poisoning. Two years ago a chemical nerve agent of the Novichok group was used to commit a similar crime in the United Kingdom. Such attacks constitute an unacceptable threat to human lives as well as grave violations of basic human rights and international law. It is the responsibility of the international community to implement measures that would prevent similar crimes from happening in the future. We wish Mr Navalny a full and speedy recovery.

Referring to their joint statement from 11 August 2020 on recent developments in Belarus, the NB8 Foreign Ministers express their solidarity with the people of Belarus and admire their peaceful resolve. 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. Ministers express concern about the criminal case opened against the Coordination Council, as well as the intimidation and detention of its members. The Coordination Council, which consists of representatives of different parts of the society, could be instrumental in paving the way for a genuine and inclusive national dialogue.

In this regard, the NB8 Foreign Ministers call on the Belarusian authorities to engage with OSCE and the OSCE Chairperson-in-Office, Prime minister and Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs of Albania, Edi Rama, and the incoming OSCE Chairperson-in-Office, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Sweden, Ann Linde. Ministers urged the authorities of Belarus to release immediately and unconditionally all unlawfully detained persons. There is a need for a complete and transparent investigation of all abuses in order to hold those responsible to account.

Ministers agree that further strengthening of the regional economic cooperation can help to address the impact caused by the spread of Covid-19 virus. Current crisis has underlined the importance of digitalization as a tool to strengthen the resilience of affected countries and societies; regional digital solutions can help to address immediate challenges of the crisis and assist in medium and long-term recovery.

NB8 Foreign Ministers also pay tribute to the work done in the Nordic-Baltic format. By Nordic Baltic 8 cooperation award, the Ministers’ meeting marks and celebrates the 30th anniversary from the first meeting of the NB8 Foreign Ministers, held in December 1990 in Copenhagen, and thus also the 30th anniversary of establishing the Nordic – Baltic cooperation format. The 1990s was a defining time in the history of Europe and the world. 30 years ago the Nordic countries were the most vocal supporters of restoration of the independent Baltic States, helped to pave their way back to international community.

Ministers recognise that the cooperation between Nordic-Baltic countries has developed over time, and today the group is working together aiming to build a more secure, innovative, strong, competitive region.