Russia high on agenda at Nordic Council meeting

Nordic country represenatives at the Nordic Council meeting this week. (Front row L-R) Sweden’s PM Ulf Kristersson, Finland’s PM Sanna Marin, Norway’s PM Jonas Gahr Store and of Iceland’s PM Katrin Jakobsdottir. (Top row L-R) Greenland’s Minister for Co-operation Vivian Motzfeldt, Denmark’s Secretary of State Jesper Moller Sorensen and Nordiska Samarbetskommitteen Petur Petersen (Faroe Islands). In centre, Åland’s Premier Veronica Thörnroos. (Vesa Moilanen / Lehtikuva / AFP)

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. 

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.

“We’re the freest and most peaceful nations of the world, and the principles of the free world must be defended,” said Sweden’s Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson on Tuesday. (Vesa Moilanen / Lehtikuva / AFP)

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.” 

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)

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

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