|Updated: 08-Nov-2002||November 2002|
Promoting Russia-Baltic dialogue
Russia-Baltic relations were the focus of a two-day conference held in St Petersburg on 1 and 2 November, entitled Promoting a Win-Win Relationship for Democracy and Security Growth in the Baltic Sea Region: Agenda for the Future. While discussions were lively, frank and, at times, heated, there was general agreement on the need to address the absence of a constructive Russia-Baltic dialogue, a situation which is incompatible with the positive dynamics in NATO's current relations with both Russia and the Baltic states.
A number of ideas were generated among participants for joint events aimed at promoting discussion of key issues such as the prospects for Russia-Baltic relations in the context of NATO and EU enlargement, conventional arms limitations, military cooperation, local government cross-border cooperation, minority rights in the Baltic states, joint training initiatives in the area of teaching and entrepreneurial skills. The proposals will be reviewed, developed and published by the organisers. It is then hoped that some of these will be implemented by a broad coalition of Russian, Baltic and other institutions.
The event, co-sponsored by NATO, was organised by two St Petersburg-based non-governmental organisations, the "Centre for Integration Research and Projects" and the "Strategy Centre", in cooperation with the Danish Atlantic Treaty Organisation. On the Russian side, participants included the Deputy Representative of the President in of Russia's North-western Federal District, Evgeniy Makarov, Deputy Chairman of the Federation Council Foreign Affairs Committee, Valeriy Golubyov, and Aleksandr Skoryukov, Head of Division of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. From the Baltic countries, the event attracted Toomas Hendrik Ilves, a former Estonian foreign minister, and Armands Gutmanis, the Latvian Under-Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs. Academics, journalists and NGO representatives from Russia and the Baltic states were well-represented.