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Secretary General Kokk Participated in Meeting of European Nordic-Baltic Ministers

05.03.2009

The third meeting of the European ministers of the Nordic and Baltic countries (NB6 – Nordic-Baltic 6) took place in Copenhagen on 4 March. The Estonian delegation was led by Foreign Ministry Secretary General Marten Kokk.

Topics of discussion were the Economic Recovery Plan for the European Union, financial crisis issues, the Treaty of Lisbon, developments in the Eastern Partnership of the European Neighbourhood Policy, energy and climate change, and opportunities for co-operation in the Baltic Sea region.

While talking about developments in the financial crisis, Secretary General Marten Kokk emphasised that it is important to prevent the spread of protectionist economic policies. “The restriction of the world economy, particularly free trade, will make emerging from this economic crisis very difficult in the long run,” said the secretary general. He added that the measures being taken to get out of the economic crisis in the European Union and on the level of individual member states must be in harmony with the principles of a functioning internal market and also take into consideration their effects across borders. Kokk also stated that the implementation of the Economic Recovery Plan is essential.

Other topics discussed at the meeting were the content and sticking points of the European Neighbourhood Policy Eastern Dimension. Secretary General Marten Kokk stated that the communication on strengthening Eastern Partnership given last December is a good basis for developing concrete and long-term policies for drawing target countries closer to the European Union. “Concluding association agreements, facilitating visa policies, having tighter economic integration and creating profound free trade agreements, which have the ultimate goal of a free trade zone that includes the EU and the target countries, are marks of the most ambitious partnership with our neighbours to date. The partnership is also a security guarantee for all those involved,” said Kokk.

On the topic of energy security, it was noted that in order to strengthen the European Union’s energy security and have a unified energy policy towards third countries, there must be a well-functioning internal energy market with sufficient connections. “One good example of a well-functioning internal energy market is the electricity market in the Nordic countries, which the Baltic nations should also be connected to soon,” said Secretary General Kokk. It was also agreed that it is important to work together to diversify suppliers, supply channels, and energy sources.

Climate change was another topic addressed at the meeting. Secretary General Marten Kokk stated that it is a positive development that the European Union has taken on a leading role in dealing with climate change and feels that the creation of a Post-Kyoto Global Climate Agreement is crucial. “However, it will be possible to achieve a functioning agreement only if all the great developed nations are included, so that their interest and good example would ensure the solid participation of developing nations in a Post-Kyoto Climate Agreement,” Kokk noted.

While talking about co-operation among the Baltic Sea states, Secretary General Kokk expressed hope that the Baltic Sea Region Strategy would be accepted by the second half of 2009, when Sweden will be the EU presidency. “It’s essential that the Baltic Sea Region Strategy will be as focused, realistic and feasible as possible,” Kokk emphasised. Estonia’s priorities for the Strategy for the Baltic Sea Region are spatial integration and competitiveness, as well as the effective and free movement of the five basic freedoms—trade, services, capital, people, and knowledge.

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