Estonian leadership in 2014
NB8 cooperation is traditionally led by one of the partner countries every year. Estonia was previously the coordinator during 2008, on January 1st 2014 we assumed this role anew. Coordinating countries’ ministry of foreign affairs draws up a meeting schedule for the upcoming year, organises and hosts most of the meetings and suggests priority areas that will be held in focus during high-level and expert meetings. When identifying priority areas for 2014 we have kept in mind our regions’ competitiveness, connectivity and the continuity of our common goals in the region and in the world.
Close cooperation is also pursued by other line ministries, including ministries of defence, justice, social affairs and finance. During 2014 there will be meetings between NB8 ministers for defence, transportation, gender equality and World Bank issues.
NB8 priority areas for 2014
Cyber cooperation is an issue of rising importance in the Nordic-Baltic area and in the world at large. Estonia has been the unofficial leader of NB8 cyber cooperation thus far and we see the need to actively continue with the matter in 2014. Estonia initiated the first NB8 cyber experts’ meeting in 2012 and we repeated the event in 2013 in cooperation with Finland. For autumn 2014 Estonia is planning a high-level cyber experts’ seminar in in cooperation with USA, who has been our close partner in cyber cooperation.
The democratic, economic and social development of European Union’s Eastern Partnership is an important foreign policy goal for all NB8 members. Nordic and Baltic countries can work together so that Eastern Partnership issues would remain topical in Europe also after the Vilnius Summit of 2013. Eastern Partnership was identified as an NB8 priority topic also during former leaderships of Sweden and Lithuania, in 2013 and 2012 respectively.
Estonian Ministry for Foreign Affairs is planning to hold a thematic conference together with Estonian Center of Eastern Partnership during the second half of 2014. The NB8 foreign ministries’ higher officials responsible for Eastern Partnership will meet in autumn 2014. Eastern Partnership questions will be kept in Nordic-Baltic high level meetings’ agendas.
There will be many developments in Nordic-Baltic energy sector in 2014 – the finalisation of BEMIP, launch of Estlink2 between Estonia and Finland, building of NordBalt between Sweden and Lithuania etc. Therefore there’s reason to keep energy issues on NB8 high-level agendas. With that we are also hoping to boost the integration of gas markets which has so far been somewhat behind the developments in electricity sector. Estonian Ministry for Foreign Affairs will organise an expert-meeting where we hope to include experts from the ministries directly responsible for energy sector in every NB8 country.
NB8 cooperation’s source document, the Wise Men Report, also known as Birkavs-Gade report, puts high importance on Nordic-Baltic security cooperation in its’ broadest sense – from civil security issues to joint defence exercises in the region. NB8 ministries for defence have established great cooperation ties, yet we see room for improvement and we wish to have these issues in the focus of different high-level and expert meetings of 2014.
Important meetings in 2014
- 20.-21. February – NB8 foreign ministries’ political directors’ meeting in Tallinn
- 6.-7. March – NB8+V4 foreign ministers’ meeting in Narva
- 26.-28. May – NB8 ministers for transportation meeting in Norway
- 19.-20. June – e-PINE foreign ministries’ political directors’ meeting in Kiev, Ukraine
- 11.-12. September – NB8 foreign ministers’ meeting in Tallinn
- 6.-7. October – e-PINE cyber experts’ meeting in Tallinn
- 20.-21. October – foreign ministries’ state secretaries’ meeting in Tallinn
- 27. October – NB8 prime ministers’ meeting in Stockholm
- 3.-4. November – e-PINE foreign ministries’ political directors’ meeting in Washington
- 6.-7. November – Nordic Future Forum, NB8+UK prime ministers’ meeting in Riga
- 1. December – NB8 Eastern Partnership seminar in Tallinn
- 12. December – NB8 foreign ministries’ policy planning units’ meeting in Tallinn