Baltic Region: history, problems, prospects.
First it is necessary to clarify terminology. The notions of “the Baltic Region”
and “Baltic Region Countries” are frequently used today in various spheres of
modern life. Until recently they were used by historians and culture experts
who were later joined by environmentalists. Only on the threshold of the 1980-90s
they firmly entered international politics which undoubtedly happened due to
global political changes in the years.
Intuitionally the Baltic Region and Baltic Region Countries notions seem
simple and clear however as soon as they move from everyday perception to
scientific language they turn out to lack a clear definition despite frequent
Let’s begin with the Baltic Region Countries term. As a rule, there are two
main interpretation options: narrow and wide. Wide understanding also reports
certain differences. The narrow understanding of the Baltic Region Countries
notion includes states with direct access to the Baltic
Sea which grants them a possibility of direct maritime
communications between any two of them without crossing third-party
borders. They comprise nine countries
which from the highest to the lowest population figures are Russia, Germany,
Poland, Sweden, Denmark,
Finland, Lithuania, Latvia,
(N.M. Mezhevich, The Baltic Region and Russia in the Baltic: Positioning Specific.
2004, or V. Korneevets, The Notions of Baltic Region Countries and The Baltic
Region. Kosmopolis #2 (21) 2008).
In a wider interpretation eleven countries are usually meant which are
members of the Council of the Baltic Sea States (CBSS) created in 1992. Besides
the already listed nine countries, Norway
has been a CBSS member since the date of its foundation, and Iceland – since
1995. We shall report on the CBSS in detail below.
And finally, the wide interpretation also includes Belarus into the notion of Baltic Region
Countries. The Baltic Region Countries term
suggests that states are the subjects of political, economic, and cultural activities
provided a state is a specific political organization of society that spreads
its authority to the whole territory of the country and the population, has special
administrative machinery for that, issues binding orders for all, and possesses
However in modern world with growing globalization and integration of states
into international processes the center-regions vertical of power is becoming
less strict as certain areas acquire increased autonomy. It is specifically characteristic of European
Union member-states. In the EU the perception of united Europe as a Europe of regions is becoming more popular. Therefore, the
Baltic Region Countries term is becoming less relevant. It is being ousted by
the Baltic Region notion which stands for a trans-border region that comprises
micro regions of various countries and does not coincide with state borders as
There are several substantiations of the notion. Depending on each concrete
approach the borders of the Baltic Region change, although insignificantly.
The most evident substantiation of the Baltic Region is physical and
geographic. It is based on the “basin” principle, which refers to the Baltic Region
the drainage basin territories of rivers flowing into the Baltic
Sea. This approach includes into the Baltic Region the whole of Lithuania, Latvia,
Estonia, practically the
whole of Poland, most of Sweden and Finland,
over a half of Denmark and
nearly a half of Belarus,
the northeast of Germany,
and small parts of Ukraine,
the Czech Republic,
It would be logical to refer to the region the northwest of Russia which is
adjacent to the Baltic Sea – St. Petersburg, Pskov region and Kaliningrad
enclave, most of Novgorod region, a part of Karelia, small areas in Arkhangelsk
and Murmansk regions, as well as Tver region in central Russia. This is the
composition of the Baltic Region offered in the Baltic
University international program
initiated by the Uppsala University in Sweden. The Baltic
University program networks 225 higher
educational establishments in 14 countries of the Baltic
Sea basin. The network is coordinated by the Baltic University
Secretariat, which is part of the Uppsala
Center at the Uppsala University. The Baltic Region strengthening instruments
section speaks about the program in detail.
There also exists a historic development principle according to which numerous
peoples inhabiting the area around the Baltic Sea
have contacted each other in various ways for thousands of years. Historians
speak about a circum-Baltic region which can be considered as a north European
similarity of the Mediterranean civilization. However the historic approach
provides an excessively amorphous understanding of the Baltic Region which can
be hardly used to determine concrete borders of the region, if any at all.
Unfortunately, it has to be admitted that historic research often pedals the
issues which are most vital from the political point of view and vice versa. Therefore, to fill in the Baltic Region
notion with concrete contents that can be expressed in political and
administrative borders it would be appropriate to stake on the realities of
political life, first and foremost.
Modern international life offers several options for the Baltic Region apprehension
that do not limit themselves to ephemeral declaration of the existence of the
region as it is, but shape out concrete borders of the region. In general the
options are alike and differ in details.
The basic perception of the Baltic Region notion in modern international practice
is the interpretation offered by the international program Vision and Strategy
around the Baltic Sea 2010 (VASAB). We shall speak about the program in detail below
in the section Baltic Region Strengthening Instruments.
According to the program, The Baltic Region comprises Denmark, Sweden,
Norway, Finland, Lithuania,
Latvia, Estonia, Poland,
Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, and Brandenburg
federal states in Germany,
as well as Berlin and Hamburg,
and Russia’s St. Petersburg, Leningrad, Pskov, Novgorod, Murmansk regions, Kaliningrad
enclave and the Republic
V. Korneevets, the author of the specialized research The Notions of Baltic
Region Countries and The Baltic Region outlines a certain nucleus of the Baltic
Region or narrows the general notion to Denmark, Sweden, Finland, Baltic
republics, only Schleswig-Holstein and Mecklenburg-Vorpommern states in
Germany, a part of Poland comprising Warminsko Mazurskie, Pomorskie, and
Zachodniopomorskie provinces, and as well as Russia’s St. Petersburg,
Leningrad, Pskov, Novgorod regions and Kaliningrad enclave, leaving Norway and
Belarus outside. To additionally
substantiate the inclusion of the areas adjacent to the Baltic Sea coast
Korneevets recalls that many cities on the territories are members of the Union of the Baltic Cities, while the mentioned provinces
are often referred to as the Baltic Belt.
The issue of terminology is not exclusively theoretical as it may seem at
the first sight. Various interpretations can be used in political rhetoric and
affect political planning. A simple example: if the talk is about Baltic Region
Countries, the Russian Federation
becomes the major player due to the size of the population and Germany is the
leader among EU countries. If we speak only about the Baltic Belt which is the
narrowest interpretation of the Baltic Region, Sweden will automatically occupy
the leading positions.
contents in terminology
The first attempts to formulate the idea of Baltic regional integration can
be referred to the end of World War One which resulted in the emergence of five
newly independent states on the political map of the region: Poland, Lithuania,
Latvia, Estonia, and Finland. (A.A. Volodkin, The Making
of Baltic Regionalism. International Law and International Relations magazine 2006 - #2). “Except
for the two first of the countries they have not had any experience of a
statehood of their own. They had to find a place in the system of international
relations to ensure their security… That conditioned the emergence of numerous
projects to create various Baltic regional alliances.” Attempts to create a
regional bloc continued until the beginning of World War Two however
differences in the interests of involved countries dominated integration trends
and, as a result, they succeeded only to set up a semi-ephemeral Baltic Entente
which nominally united Estonia,
Latvia, and Lithuania.
After World War Two a nearly half a century long bipolar standoff began in Europe which divided the countries of the region into two
opposing groups. There were no grounds for integration in the Baltic Region.
In the meantime, Scandinavian countries designed a regional development model
used in the modern concept of European regionalism. The Scandinavian countries offered
a model of socially-oriented state which abandons aggressive foreign policy,
adheres to human rights, and pays specific attention to environmental
protection. Without creating supranational bodies the Scandinavian countries
closely cooperated through regional partnerships, in which non-governmental
organizations and local self-government bodies played a key role.
“Institutionalization of Nordic cooperation began with the creation in 1952
of the Nordic Council which became a forum for inter-parliamentary interaction
of Nordic countries. Its major achievements comprised free movement of labor in
the region, provision of equal rights to labor migrants in all Nordic
countries, and expanded visa cooperation. Social policy issues, uniform
legislation, development of cultural contacts and environmental protection were
also discussed. The next step was the creation in 1971 of the Nordic Council of
Ministers. It provided a possibility to make binding decisions for all
member-countries. Unanimous approval by the Council and subsequent ratification
by national parliaments were necessary for that.”
(Möttölä, K. Nordic Security Policy Co-operation: A New Regional Role in the
Making // Small States
and the Security Challenge in the New Europe. London; Washington, 1996. P. 150—169, according to А.А. Volodkin. The making of Baltic Regionalism.
International Law and International Relations magazine 2006 -
In 1960—1970 Nordic countries reformed municipal governance system. Local
self-government enjoyed greater autonomy and even received certain political
powers, in particular, the right to maintain international contacts (with
municipal authorities of other countries) and take on international
commitments. (A.V. Kurochkin. Municipal Reform Experience in Baltic States of Europe // Polis. 2003, #3 P. 89-97).
In the late ‘90s when the Soviet Union collapsed
Nordic countries took real steps to incorporate former Soviet republics into
inter-regional Baltic cooperation. Yet in the end of 1989 the Nordic Council Presidium
sent delegations to the Soviet Baltic republics to study the domestic political
situation in detail. In November 1990
a delegation of the Nordic Council paid official visits to
Baltic capitals and in March 1991 the Nordic Council Presidium invited prime
ministers of Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia
to address its conference in Copenhagen.
In early 1991 Finnish parliament initiated the convocation of the first Baltic
conference on inter-parliamentary cooperation. At the same time the Nordic
Council considered the possibility of involving the Baltic republics into
regional cooperation of Nordic countries up to their admission to the
organization. The structuring of non-governmental organizations in the Baltic
republics was actively supported by Denmark. Modern activities of
Scandinavian banks in Baltic republics can also be considered in that
However, it is common knowledge that Baltic regionalism chose another way of
development. Several processes catalyzed European Union enlargement and
strengthening. Nordic countries that remained adhered to non-alignment policy
which perfectly operated in the bipolar world now risked staying on the
periphery of European life. They had to join European globalization processes
through EU membership and partially reject independent political course.
The Europe of opposing blocs and non-aligned countries was replaced by a united
Europe according to the plan of the European
Union. Disputes about European Union buildup principles have been going on
since its creation. They are ongoing also today however the dominating concept
at present is definitely the so-called neo-regionalism. A detailed review of
the ideology is provided in an article by A.A. Volodkin The Making of Baltic
Regionalism published in the International Law and International Relations magazine
2006 - #2.
He lists O. Wæver, P Joenniemi, B. Hettne, and M. Smith as classics of
modern neo-regionalism (Wæver, O, Joenniemi, P. Region in the Making — A Blueprint
for Baltic Sea Politics // The Baltic Sea
Region: Conflict or Co-operation? Region-Making, Security, Disarmament and
1991. P. 13—60. Williams, L.-K. The Baltic Sea Region: Forms and Functions of
Regional Co-operation [Electronic resource] // Humboldt-University of Berlin. Mode of access:
<http://www2.rz.hu-berlin.de/BaltSeaNet/Publications/williams.html>. Date of access: 19.01.2006.)
Wæver and Joenniemi outlined four approaches to the understanding of the
region. The first one depends on the presence of common topographic or cultural
specifics, i.e. internal similarity that differs the region from other
territories. The second says regions are the result of interacting policies of
great powers and local reaction to them.
The third one says regions emerge due to revolutionary changes in
technologies, specifically in transport and communications, which result in the
creation of new economic structures. The fourth approach says regions are the
product of political planning.
“The last approach seems to be most appropriate for the study of trans-border
regions, which also include the Baltic Sea region,”
Volodkin writes. “The regions of such type do not emerge spontaneously as decentralized
cooperation frameworks and their formation cannot be explained by a simple
geographic and cultural necessity. They are most likely a result of targeted
political activity. To comprehend why the emergence of this region became possible
instead of another one with different borders and cooperation principles, you have
to study not only its history and geography, but also political projects of
regional cooperation in countries that participate in its formation. History and
geography provided sufficient arguments both for supporters and opponents of Baltic
regionalism. It depended only on political will whether a regional buildup concept
would synthesize and take into account the international situation and be acceptable for all participants in the
Among European Union leading powers Germany
is most interested in the creation of Europe without
Borders, in which a major element will be a network of overlapping cooperation
regions rather than national states. The model will allow Germany to
efficiently use its federative structure. According to the German Constitution,
the federal states enjoy considerable autonomy and even carry out their own
foreign policy at the regional level. For example, Schleswig-Holstein federal
state has actively designed and participated in Baltic regionalism
projects. In July 2000 German Chancellor
Gerhard Schroeder said in a speech timed to the beginning of German presidency
in the Council of the Baltic Sea States that the Baltic Region is a “laboratory
for Europe” thus confirming the Baltic Region can be viewed as a test range for
the German model of trans-border ties.
It should be also born in mind that “soft” German penetration into various European
processes by means of inter-regional cooperation plays down potential fears of
Europe, which since World War Two has been cautious regarding any foreign
policy activity of Germany
that considerably enhanced its potential after post-war border revision.
Despite specific attitude of several European countries to Baltic regional
cooperation it is a part of European integration rather than a result of
interests of a group or of one of EU countries. The Baltic inter-regional
cooperation aims at creating in the region a functional framework of economic,
cultural, and political contacts that are more intensive and solid than international
ties which continue to unite existing national states of the European Union so
which is not an EU member, enhanced ties inside the Baltic Region in the EU
framework can lead to an isolation of the country on the regional arena and
develop it into an outside player in the Baltic Region. Bigger autonomy of Kaliningrad enclave in
several issues can be considered as a response to the challenge.
The basic history of peoples and countries of the Baltic Region began over
a thousand years ago in the ancient epoch of the early Middle Ages (VII-XIII
centuries). Numerous small and big tribes belonging to various language groups
developed into young feudal states where early Middle Age nationalities
appeared. Historic chronicles say little about the period. Archaeology and
linguistics are the main sources of its study. The shortage of materials does
not allow even to reliably identify various ethnic tribes. The ethnic picture
of the region developed slowly, much slower than in the so-called “contact
zones” directly bordering on the Hellenistic world.
Since the Paleolithic age the formation of Teutonic tribes has been
underway in Scandinavia which acquired tribal
names on the threshold of the Common Era. Tribe emergence process was also long
and ancient for Finno-Ugric peoples. Besides Finns, Estonians, and Karelians,
islets of the ancient Finno-Ugric world were reported also among Livonians in
Kurzeme and Setos in Pskov.
Special programs have been drafted to
preserve the former and the latter. Latvia has the Livonian Coast program. Baltic-Slavic language family tribes closely interlinked. According to
various experts, they were so close that the term of Baltic-Slavic Unity has
become commonplace. The closeness does not allow historians to strictly
determine the origin of several tribes. It remains an issue for researchers.
it is the origin of the Krivichi people, who are either called Slavs influenced
by the Balts or Slavic Balts, and of the Vends, who are called western Slavs or
Finno-Ugric people influenced by the Balts. The works by B. Infantyev and Pavel
and Mikhail Tyurins shall be distinguished among the latest Latvian
B.F Infantyev paid great attention to Slavic-Baltic ties in his research and
said the Balts and the Slavs were the last whole of once common Indo-European
community that came to Europe. Later the
gradual differentiation resulted in a constant diffusion that conditioned a
specific closeness of the Balts and Slavs. Father and son Pavel and Mikhail
Tyurins studied the origin of the tribe of Vends or Veneds who they called
western Slavs. This is the first set of vital issues in the study of the Baltic
The epoch of great resettlement of peoples was replaced by the epoch of
Vikings. Menacing incursions of coastal militants who mostly comprised
Scandinavians, but also had Slavs and Finno-Ugric peoples were
commonplace. But constant flow of goods
was also commonplace between Baltic Sea ports
in the Middle Ages. Any novelty that appeared in one of Baltic Region centers
quickly developed into a common value. Minor arts make it difficult and even
impossible to determine local differences and the exact place of origin of numerous
artifacts, for example, bronze or silver bracelets (31-56). There also was
outside influence on the region from the Mediterranean, Byzantine, Karoling
Empire, Arab Halifat, Kievan Rus,
Khazaria. Although it differed in scope depending on the part of the Baltic
Region, it still spread through a common communications system to the whole
region and developed into a melting pot of various influences that became a
specific trait of the Baltic culture in the early Middle Ages.
Sustainable economic and cultural ties at the dawn of the Middle Ages
developed the Baltic Sea from an obstacle dividing the countries and peoples
into an “inland sea” due to such pan-Baltic centers as Rugen,
Hedebo, Birka, Ladoga, etc. At that time the Baltic Region reported processes
similar to those which two thousand years ago took place in the epoch of
European civilization emergence on the Mediterranean coast. Pirate-like
incursions by Vikings can be compared to the crusades of the Finicians and
early Greeks. Local tribes underwent the same evolution on the path from
military democracy to statehood as the Greeks and Romans did at the dawn of
their history, although the Baltic Region failed to acquire the high
Mediterranean level of linguistic, economic, cultural, and religious
integration. The formation of the Baltic economic and cultural region was not
accompanied by the emergence of a uniform Baltic culture, to say nothing about
a common Baltic nationality. Nevertheless, it included practically all Baltic
peoples living on the coast of the Baltic Sea
and accelerated their social and economic development (123).
Relations between tribes and peoples of the Baltic region at the stage of
the formation of early feudal states comprise another complex of issues for
archaeological research. The spread of stones with runic writs, localized
archaeological finds that came to the Baltic region from other places and
determination of their “supply” routes, and the Dvina Stones offer the most apparent
issues that can be followed by the spread of agricultural crops and animal
breeds, soil toiling methods, agricultural, handicraft, and trade instruments,
and construction methods. And finally there was reciprocal influence during the
period of social stratification (e.g. the origination of Latvian “bayars” from
ancient Russian ‘boyar” and Latvian “keninsh” or “kungs” from Scandinavian
“konung” as the idiom acquired concrete social meaning).
Late Middle Ages. The epoch of Hansa trade. Hansa issues cause specific
interest in European mediavistics not only among professional historians, but
also among broad public. They comprise numerous tourist routes of interest for
foreigners from the countries of the Baltic Region, various related events,
such as Hansa Days, numerous reconstructions up to the re-production of Middle
Age vessels used by international teams to sail along ancient itineraries.
Besides events targeting a wide audience, it is necessary to mention the
research which analyzes reciprocal influence, such as the impact of Genoa and Venice municipal
self-government on the Novgorod and Pskov republics, the
influence of Roman architecture on cathedral architecture in the Russian
The next epoch is the time for the emergence of national states on the coast of the Baltic Sea which work to maintain Baltic Balance with each other and against each other. The Baltic Balance
means that as soon as the influence of one power on the Baltic coast begins to outweigh
the capabilities of the others, the weaker countries unite against the
dominating power. The result was the Livonian War, which was a war among the
countries of the Baltic Region to a major extent, the Polish-Swedish and
Northern wars, as well as other standoffs that were resolved either diplomatically
or on the battlefield.
In late XIX century some historians already tended to consider the history
of the Baltic Region in the XVI-XVIII centuries not as the history of concrete Baltic Sea littoral countries, but as the history of a
common region. (G.V. Forsten. The Fight Due to Supremacy in the Baltic Sea in the XV and XVI centuries. St. Petersburg. 1884; G.V.
Forsten, The Baltic Issue in the XVI-XVII centuries (1544-1648) vol. 1-2, St. Petersburg,
This is what Forsten wrote in the introduction to the book published in 1893:
“The new guideline in the whole European trade resulted in the discovery of the
New World. The event dealt a decisive blow to
Hansa, the collapse of which, in its turn, resulted in the rise of several new
states that acquired the status of European powers. Denmark,
Russia, Sweden, and Poland worked to overtake each
other and seize the rich Hansa wealth. They engaged in a protracted struggle.
The winning ruler would dominate the whole of the north. The struggle for the
supremacy on the Baltic Sea acquired both
mercantile and political meaning. The Baltic issue entered a new stage of
development and no longer limited itself to trade and commercial dominance at
sea, but expanded to include politics and religion and eyed territorial
possession of the Baltic Sea coast. The whole
history of Nordic countries, Russia,
Poland, Sweden, and Denmark as European states coincided
with the history of the Baltic issue in the new stage of development. The
foreign policy of the countries was their Baltic policy. An event can be
correctly assessed only if you bear in mind its European significance rather
than view it as a purely local development.”
The Baltic Issue in the XVI and XVII centuries (1544 – 1648): The Struggle
for Livonia. V. 1 / Forsten G.V. – St. Petersburg. Balashev & Co. Publishers, 1893. – p. 733.
The wars in the period and subsequent XIX-XX centuries did not promote the strengthening
of the Baltic unity, however the military history of the Baltic Region can be considered
by the modern vision as a factor of enhanced Baltic unity conscience.
It is first necessary to pay attention to numerous foreign military necropoleis
on the territory of the countries of the region. Advocating respect to military
cemeteries and monuments to warring parties and various epochs is the necessary
guideline that ensures major work, which nevertheless cannot be considered as
minimum sufficient. A vivid example of
the positive experience that eases ideological confrontation is offered by a
joint publication by the Lithuanian Republic, the Russian Federation, and the Federal
Republic of Germany devoted to the 60 years of the end of World War Two. In
2006 the Album of WW2 military graves in Lithuania
was published in Vilnius
in the Lithuanian, Russian, and German languages.
In this connection it is necessary to recall the military-historic
reconstruction which became a large-scale event in modern world. In Riga major international military-historic festival Dole-2007
was held on the island
of Dole on September
15-16, 2007. The festival involved military-historic reconstruction clubs from Latvia, Lithuania,
Estonia, Russia, Belarus,
In the eastern part of the Baltic region such festivals are so far held
occasionally, while in the western part the events timed to various dates are
held regularly, are included into all tourist reference books, and promote
interest in history, as well as tourism.
The framework of expanding ecotourism in Europe also includes
growing-popularity tours in Western Europe of
military objects beginning from combat places to fortresses that offer an
example of military fortifications of their epoch. Latvia,
besides widely advertised tourist trips to Middle Age castles, has three major
fortifications dating back to various periods of the XIX century – Ust-Dvina
(Daugavgriva) (which was founded earlier but the current state preserved the
outline of XIX century construction), Dinaburg (Daugavpils) and Libava fortresses. The
fortress in Daugavpils is the biggest of all
that preserved in Europe. The historic study
of the objects and of their role in the wars and the design of tourist
itineraries there are the general tasks which have yet to be fulfilled. So far
the heritage is used to a small extent and only a tourist center was set up at
the guardhouse of Libava military township.
4. Baltic Region strengthening instruments
The following regional cooperation methods and mechanisms that strengthen
inter-regional ties can be listed:
International program Vision and Strategy around the Baltic Sea 2010
(VASAB) (http://vasab.leontief.net/introduction.htm). The program is being
implemented along the lines of the European Union and the Council of Europe.
The basic document Vision and Strategy around the Baltic Sea 2010 (VASAB 2010)
was adopted by the conference in Tallinn
on December 7-8, 1994. From Vision to Action Report followed in 1996. VASAB
2010 concept unites four basic values into a common system and 14 goals and
programs of direct action in the Baltic Sea
region. VASAB 2010 is supported by 7 action programs fixed in From Vision to
Basic values: 1. Development, 2. Environmental sustainability, 3. Freedom, 4.
The values can be grouped in two: Development and Freedom, Environmental
sustainability and Solidarity.
Municipal system of
1. Competitive municipal
system increases its significance through cooperation across the Baltic Sea and
2. Municipal system
guarantees spatial accord.
3. Ties between municipal
areas and internal rural districts help maintain regional economic and
create attractive urban environment for residents and investments.
Efficient and sustainable
transportation network of the Baltic Sea
region uses environment-friendly vehicles.
6. The transportation network creates conditions for effective integration
within the Baltic Sea region and of the region
with the world.
7. Power generation increasingly targets renewed and environment-friendly
The spheres promoting dynamism
and quality of life
8. International cooperation promotes spatial economic and social accord.
9. Islands function as tourism nucleus in the Baltic Sea
10. The coastal zone is planned through a thin balance between development and
11. Baltic Network of nature areas has been designated and protected.
All-round spatial planning in
planning promotes harmonizing and spatial cohesion across borders.
13. Spatial planning is based on principles of subsidiarity, participation and
14. Spatial planning promotes coordination of industry and regional planning.
1. Drafting a
program for sustainable settlement and urban networks development.
2. Unification of European transport network development with sustainable regional
3. Design of a set of pilot projects to manage sustainable development in
4. Creation of a harbor network taking into account the criteria of regional
and environmental efficiency.
5. Design of a maritime transport program involving hinterland ports and
concentrated at multi-level transportation centers.
6. Creation of a system to control spatial development in the region.
7. Holding of regional conferences to present key projects and permanent
supervision of projects promoting VASAB 2010 implementation.
The European Commission is actively promoting the concept of short-distance
sea shipments the main aim of which is to switch cargo flows from overloaded
means of land transportation to environment-friendly maritime transport. A component part of the concept is the project
of maritime routes, which also includes the Baltic Sea.
Council of the Baltic Sea States
The Council of the Baltic Sea States (CBSS) is an intergovernmental
organization created by the ministerial conference of the Baltic Sea countries
on March 5-6, 1992. It unites Germany,
Denmark, Lithuania, Latvia,
Norway, Poland, Russia,
Finland, Sweden, Estonia, and a representative of the
European Commission, which is the executive body of the European Union. Belarus has
enjoyed the observer status in the CBSS since July 1, 2009.
The Council aims at encouraging all-round cooperation between the countries
of the region.
The tasks and guidelines of Baltic cooperation were stipulated in the
Declaration on the creation of the Council of the Baltic Sea States
adopted in March 1922.
Priority guidelines in CBSS activities include provision of economic and
technical assistance to requesting countries; the fight against transnational
crime, illegal migration, human and drug trafficking; development of transport
and communications, and the energy sphere; support to national democratic
institutions; cooperation in
humanitarian issues, health care, environmental protection, culture, education,
information, and tourism.
The organization possesses no supranational powers and is an
intergovernmental forum for member-countries to exchange opinions on issues of
regional cooperation development.
The CBSS is an “umbrella” organization with close to 60 various structures
created under its auspices. The most prominent are the Baltic Sea Parliamentary
Conference, the Conference on Subregional Cooperation, the Union of the Baltic Cities,
the Baltic Sea Chambers of Commerce Association, and the Consultative Council
of business circles of Baltic countries.
An example of concrete CBSS activities is offered by the Tolerance program
of the government of St. Petersburg which was presented on March 10-11, 2008 in Riga (Latvia) at a
meeting of the working group for democratic institutions of the Council of the
Baltic Sea States (website of St. Petersburg government). The Program aims at
creating and developing hospitality industry that meets international