Russia’s invasion of Ukraine was high on the agenda as Nordic leaders were gathered in Helsinki on Tuesday.
“The Nordic prime ministers conveyed a strong message that Russia’s war has permanently changed the Nordic region and that the countries’ common objectives will better prepare the region to operate in the changed environment,” said a statement on the government of Finland’s website.
The leaders were in the Finnish capital for the 74th Ordinary Session of the Nordic Council.
The council includes Finland, Sweden, Iceland, Denmark and Norway and the autonomous regions of Greenland, the Faroe Islands and Åland, an autonomous region of Finland.
“When the geopolitical situation is unfriendly, as it is now, it is very nice to have the Nordic family,” Åland’s Premier Veronica Thörnroos said.
— Nordisk Samarbejde (@nordensk) November 1, 2022
Nordic leaders stress unity
Russia’s actions prompted both Sweden and Finland to apply for NATO membership earlier this year.
Their applications were approved and the accession protocols for both countries were signed on July 5. The 30 member countries must now ratify the protocols. Turkey and Hungry are the remaining two countries to do so.
In a statement on Tuesday, Sweden’s Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson said he was thankful for the support from the other Nordic countries towards the application.
“The growing Nordic membership in NATO also creates the possibility of strengthened Nordic co-operation,” he said.
In addition to the war in Ukraine, energy security and multilateral Nordic cooperation are also on the agenda.
Finland’s Prime Minister Sanna Marin said the Nordic countries must become energy independent from Russia and strengthen supply contingencies.
“In the future, our focus must be on security of supply and the development of our own sustainable energy, as well as on removing our dependency on energy from authoritarian states,” she said.
‘Nordic solutions for the rest of the world’
The Nordic Council’s Action Plan Vision for 2030 will also undergo its mid-term view. The initiative was set up to better facilitate Nordic cooperation particularly on environment and sustainability and advance integration of the region.
“We have Nordic solutions for the rest of the world,” said Norway’s Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Store said on Twitter.
“Our common platform is more important than ever. We stand together in defense of international cooperation and laws and together, we can build green industries and accelerate the green transition.”
Vi har nordiske løsninger for resten av verden. Vår felles plattform er viktigere enn noen gang. Vi står sammen om forsvar av internasjonalt samarbeid og folkeretten, og sammen kan vi bygge grønne næringer og akselerere omstillingen @swedishPM, @sannamarin, @katrinjak, @nordensk
— Jonas Gahr Støre (@jonasgahrstore) November 1, 2022
Cross-border barriers, recognition of professional qualifications across jurisdictions and eliminating obstacles to digital public services will also be discussed.
“Access to digital services is a topical example of a major cross-border barrier that must be resolved if we want to be the most integrated region in the world,” Thomas Blomqvist, Finland’s Minister for Nordic Cooperation and Equality, said earlier this week.
“At the moment, people find it too difficult to use digital public services in other Nordic countries.”
The Nordic Council meeting runs until November 3.
Write to Eilís Quinn at eilis.quinn(at)cbc.ca
Related stories from around the North:
Canada: Canada’s North spared from national military staff shortages, CBC News
Faroe Islands: Faroe Islands’ Arctic strategy focuses on security, climate & cooperation, Eye on the Arctic
Finland: No return to pre-war reality when it comes to Arctic cooperation, says Finnish rep, Eye on the Arctic
Greenland: Greenland, Iceland sign cooperation agreement in Reykjavik, Eye on the Arctic
Iceland: Arctic Circle—The outside world keeps walking in, Blog by Marc Lanteigne
Norway: Hybrid threat researcher detained in Tromsø on suspicion of being Russian agent, Thomson Reuters
Russia: Newly deployed nuke-bombers at Kola is certainly a signalling, expert says, The Independent Barents Observer
United States: China, Russia among global priorities, including in Arctic, in U.S. security strategy, Eye on the Arctic