Foreign Minister agree to continue Nordic cooperation

At their meeting in Iceland, the Nordic foreign ministers agreed that Nordic countries would continue to cooperate in meeting the challenges in the area of foreign and security policy in the spirit of solidarity.

The Foreign Ministers of Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden met in Reykjavik on 8-9 June 2009 to discuss ways to strengthen Nordic cooperation in the areas of foreign affairs and security policy.

The Ministers emphasize the strong community of values between the five nations. There is a common interest to contribute to stability in the Nordic region and its vicinity. On the basis of common interests and geographical proximity it is natural for the Nordic countries to cooperate in meeting the challenges in the area of foreign and security policy in the spirit of solidarity. Increased Nordic co-operation is in line with every Nordic country’s security and defense policy and complements existing European and Euro-Atlantic cooperation.

Against this background the Ministers warmly welcome the proposals set forth in the report of Thorvald Stoltenberg, former Minister of Foreign Affairs and Defence of Norway. The Ministers initiated this report at their meeting in Luxembourg on June 16th last year where Thorvald Stoltenberg was asked to prepare a report on how the Nordic countries may strengthen their cooperation to face future foreign- and security policy challenges.

The Ministers note that some of the proposals lend themselves to more immediate consideration while others will need to be reviewed in a longer term perspective and that some of the proposals are already under consideration by the Nordic countries, sometimes in cooperation with other nations. They underline the importance of involving other nations in Nordic cooperation in this field, not least the Baltic countries.

The Ministers further agree that enhanced Nordic cooperation should be complementary to existing NATO, EU and OSCE commitments and cooperation. There is also a general understanding that it is only through well-functioning multilateralism, not least the work in the United Nations framework, that transnational challenges can be solved.

The Ministers note that enhancing Nordic cooperation relating to air surveillance is an important element in the development of practical Nordic cooperation. The Ministers note that Denmark and Norway have already provided operational assistance to Iceland and participated in air surveillance. The Ministers agree to look further into the feasibility of the proposal on surveillance of Icelandic airspace, under Icelandic authority, with regard to phase one and two of the proposal.

Referring to the proposal on a possible system for civilian maritime surveillance of environmental issues the Ministers note that Norway has invited to share information with the other Nordic countries on preliminary study of such a system (“Barents Watch”). The Ministers also note the extensive international cooperation in the Baltic sea. The surveillance system could benefit from available satellite resources and interested Nordic countries have established a dialogue on how to enhance common efforts in this field.

The Ministers also agree that increased commercial activity in the Arctic and the High North will call for enhanced presence of Coast Guard vessels as they represent important search and rescue assets. The Ministers note that these efforts should be followed up in cooperation with other nations.

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