The eight Baltic Sea countries will discuss further responses to Russia's war of aggression on Ukraine, increasing energy security through the expansion of renewable energies, and the recovery of contaminated ammunition and explosive ordnance from the Baltic Sea. © Jens Büttner/dpa
Putin's attack on Ukraine is bringing the Baltic Sea countries closer together. But it remains to be seen how some jointly planned announcements will be implemented.
Wismar - In view of the Russian attack on Ukraine, the Baltic Sea countries want to strengthen their cooperation in the security and energy sectors.
At the end of its meeting in Wismar today, the CBSS also agreed to cooperate more closely in the recovery and disposal of old ammunition from the world wars stored on the seabed in order to protect offshore energy installations and underwater infrastructure.
Finland takes over the Presidency of the Council of the Baltic Sea States from Germany on 1 July. Founded in 1992 and based in Stockholm, the regional body includes Germany and Finland, Norway, Denmark, Estonia, Lithuania, Latvia, Poland, Sweden, Iceland and the EU.
Russia's Council membership was suspended in March 2022 after the start of the war of aggression on Ukraine. As a result, Moscow declared its withdrawal in May 2022. Until the attack on Ukraine, the Council was one of the rounds in which concrete cooperation on technical issues with Moscow was possible.
Up to 400,000 tons of ammunition sunk
According to the will of German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock, investors in the construction of offshore wind farms in the Baltic Sea are to participate in the salvage of old ammunition in the future. Similar to the examples of the use of military training areas on land, investors in the construction of power plants should pay in return for the use of the area for the clearance of mines and other warfare agents, said the Green politician at the end of the meeting in the Hanseatic city in Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania.
In the final declaration, the Council members point out the dangers posed by conventional and chemical munitions to the marine environment, fisheries, shipping and renewable energy installations. According to estimates by the Fraunhofer Institute for Computer Graphics Research, there are up to 400,000 tons of conventional ammunition and about 40,000 tons of chemical warfare agents dumped in the Baltic Sea after the world wars.
Baerbock made it clear that joint efforts to clear ammunition would be cheaper than if each country went it alone. However, she did not make any concrete commitments to help financially weaker Baltic Sea countries financially. Despite the common interest, each state is responsible for its own territorial waters, said the Green politician.
Norwegian Foreign Minister Anniken Huitfeldt and Finnish State Secretary for Foreign Affairs Johanna Sumuvuori also see private-sector involvement as important. According to Huitfeldt, security at the bottom of the sea is the joint responsibility of all states in the region - even those that have less money at their disposal than Norway and Germany.
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Russia's actions condemned
The connecting arc of the meeting was the reaction to the Russian war of aggression in Ukraine. In its final declaration, the CBSS condemned the "aggressive, provocative and unfounded" behaviour of the Russian naval and air forces in and over the Baltic Sea. This would disregard generally accepted standards of safety at sea and in the air. This poses a threat to navigation and communication.
Sumuvuori said that when it comes to security, the CBSS does not only think about military security. Supply, economic and energy security are also discussed when it comes to the resilience of societies in the region.
Vision for the future 2040
The spatial planning ministers of Germany, Estonia, Finland, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland and Sweden adopted their vision for the future for 2040 at a conference held at the same time as the Foreign Ministers' Meeting in Wismar. Among other things, this is intended to support the expansion of renewable energies and the farewell to fossil fuels in the Baltic Sea region.
"In times of global change, coordinated and integrated spatial planning is fundamentally crucial," said Federal Building Minister Klara Geywitz (SPD), according to a statement. Dpa