At the invitation of the European Union, the third Ministerial meeting of the Northern Dimension (ND) took place in Brussels on 18 February with the participation of Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy/Vice-President of the European Commission Catherine Ashton, Ministers of Foreign Affairs of Norway, Iceland and a number of EU member states, as well as representatives of the Council of the Baltic Sea States (CBSS), the Arctic Council, the Barents Euro-Arctic Council, the Nordic Council of Ministers and international financial institutions.
At the Ministerial meeting detailed consideration was given to the state of affairs in the existing four ND Partnerships – on environment, public health and social well-being, transport and logistics, and culture. Ministers also discussed the contribution of the ND Business Council and the ND Institute.
The Ministers gave a positive assessment of the Northern Dimension cooperation based on equal participation of the four partners and co-funding of negotiated projects. Furthermore, the Ministers identified the vectors of ND development for the next two years. They shared the view that work in this format should continue to be focused on implementation of specific infrastructure, transport and logistics and other projects to the benefit of all its participants and development of the region as a whole.
Specific arrangements on these issues are reflected in the Joint Statement of the Ministerial meeting.
Moreover, participants endorsed the priorities of the Russian Presidency of the CBSS.
The specific nature of the Northern Dimension has turned into a successful platform for accumulating potentials of regional plans and strategies of the four partners, including the Strategy of Social and Economic Development of the Northwestern District of the Russian Federation until 2020 and the EU Strategy for the Baltic Sea Region.
In the course of discussion on topical issues related to cooperation and the situation in Northern Europe, Minister Lavrov stressed the importance of preserving the region as a zone of peace and cooperation. Russia will continue its consistent efforts aimed at modernisation of the European security architecture through collective work, not least in this vast region.
Addressing cooperation with external partners, the Russian delegation called for swift implementation of the previously adopted decision on participation of Belarus in the work of the Northern Dimension in an observer capacity.
The Joint Statement adopted at the meeting emphasises the importance of further development of the Northern Partnership as a joint policy of the four equal partners – Russia, the EU, Iceland and Norway. Russia’s participation in the Northern Dimension facilitates the development of multifaceted cooperation in Northern Europe and contributes to implementation of the goals of the Russia-EU Partnership for Modernisation.