The Atlantic Council of the United States
Nordic-Baltic Security in the 21st Century:
Continued Transformation Toward a Larger Role in the World?
The Nordic-Baltic Region Meets the World: Should There Be a Global Agenda?
Welcome and Moderator:
School of Advanced International Studies
Senior Vice President,
Center for Strategic and International Studies
International Centre for Defence Studies
Executive Vice President
Location: Washington, D.C.
Date: September 7, 2011
Federal News Service
ROBERT NURICK: We’ve had – we’re now at our third panel, which is turning to the – to the relationship of Nordic-Baltic security cooperation and the global agenda. We’re doing this because we’ve heard quite a bit this morning about regional security issues, hard security. We’ve talked about economics and defense. Now we’re really turning the question not so much as of the Nordic-Baltic region as subjects of analysis or the subjects of policy, but as actors in their own right.
And we’re doing this because in addition to what – the very interesting trends we’ve seen in the region, there are a lot of things that have been going on around the region, of new security issues or issues which are taking new shape in which the Nordic-Baltic countries either could get engaged, and in many cases already have.
And there are at least three areas where – which we’ve touched on already in the discussion where this is the case, where there’ve been references to two, at least – three broad areas. One is the High North and the Arctic. The other is the neighborhood, or what for the European Union is the neighborhood, and the developments there or what, as Madame Vike-Freiberga commented, that unfortunately other people in the region still call the post-Soviet space, but for the EU is the new neighbors.
And then the third area has to do with dealing with the new conflict areas, either for peacekeeping, for humanitarian intervention; in some cases, for military operations. All of these are areas where the Nordic-Baltic countries have taken a role, and in many – or are considering a role, in some cases both.
And we have a very interesting set of panelists here to deal with these issues. Well, I’m going to begin with our two guests from Europe; then turn to our American participants for a U.S. perspective.
Our first speaker will be Per Augustsson. Per is currently a senior fellow and diplomat-in-residence at the Center for Transatlantic Relations at SAIS here in Washington. He is a long-standing member of the Swedish foreign service since 1992, most recently serving as deputy head of mission and head of the Political and Economic Section in the Embassy in London.
But he’s had many other posts, including at the U.N. and in Zagreb, and similarly many very interesting posts in Stockholm, most of which – have focused on EU issues, either EU issues or on Central and East European affairs. He’s written a very interesting paper, along with a colleague.
He’s been working on some – these issues at SAIS and he’s written a very interesting issue brief in the compendium on the Arctic and the High North, and so we’d like to ask him to talk about this subject today.
Per, in your – in your paper you talk a lot about the need for what you call a comprehensive approach to the Arctic region. First set of questions is why. What – why is an overarching strategy necessary? Why is it – I mean, there’s been a lot of practical cooperation on the ground. What’s the problem? What is it that needs to be done that – to build on the present momentum? What’s the danger of not having some kind of shared strategic vision of – or a comprehensive approach, as you say?
Secondly, in this area you note also that there are a lot of commonalities in – particularly in the Nordic views of the Arctic region, but also some important differences, including on some security issues. So I guess the second question is, where would cooperation be most useful. What are – where is it most needed? And how do we bring the Baltic States more directly into this? What’s the argument for doing that?
PER AUGUSTSSON: Thank you very much. I’m very happy to be here. And I have two reflections that I want to make on the Arctic, and the first one is the general reflection about what is going on.
As you know, it’s a very broad agenda of new issues that will face us in the Arctic in the coming years and decades. And it’s not only environment. Of course, it’s shipping and the security and economic development and a long range of different issues – also safety at sea, for instance – both challenges and opportunities coming up over the next decades. And some of them are very long-perspective challenges and opportunities.
But I think it’s time now – even if they come up in 10 years or 20 years or 30 years, it’s time now to think about strategies around these issues. Because they are – most of them are interrelated with each other, and we will certainly need to cooperate internationally on most of them.
At the same time, we have an increasing number of players in the Arctic. Not only the Arctic eight countries are there, the traditional interested countries, but we also have an increased interest for instance from Europe, from the European Commission, who is developing a comprehensive policy on the Arctic.
We also have individual European countries who are becoming more and more interested who are not the Arctic European countries. We have China, who is investing a lot and clearly sees this as a major strategic area in the future – and Japan the same and Korea, and there will be more countries to follow.
At the same time, with this range of issues and actors, there are a lot of different players, both at national and regional and international levels that are dealing with the Arctic. And in my view, there is a risk over the next decades of separation of policy discussions on the Arctic and fragmentation of strategies. So that’s why I in my paper argue for a comprehensive international approach to the Arctic in the coming years and one forum, preferably, where this comprehensive approach and where these issues can be discussed in a comprehensive way.
And in my view, that forum would be the Arctic Council, which is the only forum, which is exclusively focused on the Arctic. But at the same time, as you know, it’s a limited mandate and not very strong. So I think the efforts to strengthen the Arctic Council and to broaden its mandate and make it more relevant in the future will be very important in order to be able to conduct this more comprehensive discussion on the Arctic – and also in that forum to conduct work towards more comprehensive international strategies for the Arctic in the years ahead. So this is on the general level.
Now, secondly, then, what about the Nordic and Baltic countries in this situation, where the Arctic region is becoming more of a global interest than before? I think there are strong reasons to work together on this in the years ahead.
Yes, the different countries have very different perspectives on this issue. Norway and Denmark, for instance, are superpowers in the Arctic, and other countries in our region have had other focus areas. We have talked a lot about the Baltic cooperation in particular. And the national interests of the – of the various Nordic and Baltic countries may be assessed very differently with regard to the Arctic.
People in some of the Nordic countries and some of the Baltic countries may really ask themselves, “What on Earth do we have to do with that issue?”
But at the same time, I think we should look more to the shared interests that we have. We are – the Nordic and Baltic countries are geographically close to each other. We share this neighborhood of increased global interest and we also share a big neighbor, Russia, which is the biggest player in the Arctic with the greatest capabilities, and so on.
So what is, I think, new and interesting right now – when you talk about these things – it is that when you look at the Nordic countries, all five of them now have Arctic strategies on the table since May. Norway has had it for several years, since 2006, and updated it – Denmark, also 2008 and updated it. Only two weeks ago, there was a new Danish Arctic strategy that came out. Iceland has had it since 2009; Finland last year, and Sweden just got an Arctic strategy this spring.
So now it’s actually easy to look at the policies and the strategies of the Nordic countries, which I have done. I just put them beside each other and looked. Are they different, or are they – are they similar? And what this – of course they are different in some ways. They are different in tone and context and the general descriptions on the Arctic and so on, but they’re very similar when you dig into the actual substance in the strategies.
For instance, in areas like sustainable and science-based resource management, we have the same – the Nordic countries have the same thinking, the same ideas, to a very large extent. Environmental protection, the same thing – when it comes to the use of Nordic competencies and know-how in areas like climate change, environmental issues, shipping, technology and petroleum development, we think very much the same and have very, very similar ideas in our policies.
Better maritime monitoring and preparedness, same thing, and the important area of economic opportunities in terms of increased trade, investments, tourism in this region, business opportunities and general economic development in the whole region, as well as infrastructure development and cross-border cooperation. All of these very important areas for the future are areas where our strategies are very similar and our thinking goes hand in hand, I would say.
So there is a lot. Even if we are different countries with different perspectives on the Arctic, there is a lot of common territory if you look at policies and objectives and what we really want to do.
And I think this could be used in the coming decades – that’s the time perspective that I have when I think about this – for closer coordination, cooperation and joint action also on Arctic matters for the Nordic group and for the Nordic-Baltic group. If there is a political interest in this, we can strengthen by doing this. We can strengthen our common voice. We can make ourselves stronger globally and more coherent in relation to other, bigger players.
And this also, finally, I think could provide a basis for closer trans-Atlantic cooperation on the Arctic. It’s an opportunity, I think, for joint leadership on forming comprehensive strategies for the future Arctic developments that we can do together on the basis of first coming together in the region and then together with our trans-Atlantic partners.
And I think this would be a very interesting way to go, as this whole issue of the Arctic is increasingly becoming more complex in substance, and a lot more players are gradually getting involved.
MR. NURICK: Thank you very much.
We’ll move on right away to our next speaker, Kadri Liik. I’ll have to begin with a personal note here. When I moved to Moscow at the beginning of 2001 because of my interest in Baltic issues, I first got to know the embassy communities.
But then I was curious what kind of reporting does – is going back to the Baltic States from Moscow. And I looked around for reporters, and I found one – one journalist, and it was Kadri, who was permanently based there. She had been there for a few years already – she – and stayed for several years after I arrived. She therefore watched the transition from the late Yeltsin period through to the early – and then Putin period, and was a very, very astute observer of politics there.
She went back to Tallinn a few years – I guess it was about two thousand and – I was going to say six –
KADRI LIIK: 2002.
MR. NURICK: 2002 – continued working there as a journalist, on foreign policy in particular – also other media, particularly the radio discussion shows, and continued doing that for a few years until the Estonian Ministry of Defence had the very good sense to establish a new center called the International Centre for Defence Studies, of which she was the founding director, and has been up until very recently, where she’s decided that she could now turn – as the senior researcher there to, instead of worrying about other people’s work, worrying about her own.
So it’s a great pleasure to have her here. She has written a paper again, which I commend to you in the compendium, on the question of outreach, possible role of the Baltic States in transferring their experience, their knowledge and so on to other transitional and would-be democracies in the neighborhood.
And so for Kadri, I have very – you know, similar – two questions for you as well. One is that – one has to do with the nature of this – of this engagement. Is there a need to – a similar question to what I asked Per – is there a need for an overarching strategy here. I mean, what we’ve seen is de facto engagement by countries in the region, which arguably represents a kind of natural division of labor.
They’ve tied up with countries that they have – that are amenable to their presence. They are sharing the kind of expertise and background and experience which they have to offer. Do we need more than that? Is there – is there – do we need a new impetus? Do we need more collaboration and coordination among them to make this work?
Secondly, a second question has to do with what we’ve called before the elephant in the room, and that is the relationship between these efforts, the outreach to the neighborhood, what we call the neighborhood; and what the Russians call the post-Soviet space. What’s the relationship between these efforts and our agenda with Russia?
You argue in the paper that these activities should not be subject to Russian veto and that they need not be – that they – that they need not sour the relationship. The first, obviously, is true. The second – could you elaborate on the second? How do you manage these tensions? Where do you see them, and how do you manage them?
MS. LIIK: Thank you, Bob. Thanks for that very kind introduction, although I must say that my impression was that I contacted you back in Moscow, rather than you me. (Laughter.) So we have – we have to get that straight later on.
But indeed, my – the paper I wrote together with a colleague of mine focuses on how the Nordic and Baltic countries work on helping the transitional democracies to democratize and become better countries. And they make a case of involving the United States more closely in that work, because that would lend some more importance and political muscle to that work to make it look more prominent in the eyes of the Baltic-Nordic countries themselves, as well as the recipient countries of all our aid and good will – and also benefit the United States, because the United States could tap into that lost resource pool and knowledge pool that the Baltic and Nordic countries have in these areas, whereas our knowledge is actually very diverse. The Baltic States have fresh reform experience themselves. We are very well-positioned to tell other countries how to harmonize their legislation with the European key communautaire or how to promote themselves internationally. We’ve just done that in recent past. We have living memory. We have – all the experts will have been doing it.
Nordic countries, however, they have experience with the Baltic States not least. They were the countries that helped us to become members of the Western community 20 years ago. But also, they have prominent experience with other corners of the world, the Balkans or be it elsewhere, and they’re much richer than we are. So I think it’s a very good combination, the Baltic-Nordic team. In my paper, I’ve counted all the reasons why it works and why we should also include the United States.
Now, of course democracy promotion – and I don’t consider my political experience especially long, but I have seen it idolized and demonized and then idolized again and demonized again, even during my short memory. It’s been very popular and very unpopular.
But it seems to be a fact of life, especially now after the North African revolutions, but democratization – or in some cases state building – will remain in international agenda for times to come. And you’re really lucky if it’s just democracy building, rather than state building. Then again, if you don’t help countries with democracy building, you might be forced to engage in state building in these same countries later on. So it’s something that definitely should be done.
Do you need a common, overarching vision or perspective? Well, up to a point – when it comes to, say, post-Soviet space or Eastern Partnership countries – Russia, Ukraine, et cetera – well, you have countries in Europe who think that this is Russia’s backyard and Russia is entitled to a backyard, and we shouldn’t meddle there. And that – sort of views are certainly not helpful.
But you can still do the job having quite diverse views of Russia and international life in general. Let’s say our Baltic-Nordic community, plus U.S., we have actually a variety of views on Russia, even in that community. Maybe we share some basic (analysis ?), but our tactics are different. I mean, U.S. has its reset policy. Estonia and Finland interact with Russia in a fairly different manner. But that doesn’t hinder us, really. I think in that community we have sufficient amount of shared values and shared understanding to be able to go ahead.
Is democracy building in post-Soviet space bound to irritate Russia? Not to the extent that some people think, I suppose – and here let me go back and examine very briefly the period of 2004 to 2008 when all democratization efforts met the most fierce resistance by Russia, and it culminated in the war in Georgia, and many people in the West concluded that (this was ?) the red line and we crossed it. Russia showed us that (this ?) must not be crossed.
I would argue that actually in that period, 2004-2008, Russia operated under a fairly unique set of circumstances that might not be repeated in the future. I mean, first, high oil prices – oil prices peaked in 2008, and they had been going up for 10 years. And 10 years had been the total lifetime of Putin’s regime, by that time. So it was (really ?) their experience that things can only get better. They hadn’t seen things getting worse.
And so Russia got simply very arrogant. Russia thought that it can dictate terms to other countries, and they don’t have to listen to other countries or take other countries into account. The international world looked different. America was pretty badly bogged down in Mesopotamia. George Bush was very unpopular and so – therefore easy to attack. At the same time, Russia was not scared of China. It wasn’t yet acutely aware of its democratic crisis, et cetera. I mean, many other factors that existed back then have only entered Russia’s awareness by now are only starting to enter. They didn’t figure in Russia’s political calculations back then.
Then there was – a very prominent factor was panic – (inaudible) – arrival of the regime in Russia. I mean, after Orange and then the Rose Revolutions, Russia fought – (word inaudible) – for Western-inspired regime changes that were frightening Russia. And that’s what made them panic. That’s what made them stage always propaganda campaigns against the countries that had succumbed to or were seen by Russia as having implemented democratic regime changes in these countries.
Also, Putin’s personal disappointment with the West and with George Bush, probably, who according to Putin’s understanding had promised something and then not delivered – then there was the – (inaudible) – concept of Second World War and victory in that war, which served as kind of substitute ideology for Putin, (means ?) to legitimatize (sic) his power at home and in Russia’s actions abroad.
And I think – many of (these ?) things have changed by now. It was a fairly unique set that – kind of enabled Russia to feel confident and arrogant as it did in 2008. This will not necessarily be repeated.
Actually, I mean, I feel a little bit strange talking about Russia today because I feel Russia has taken a leave from international life for now. I mean, Russia doesn’t – quite clearly Russia doesn’t know where it’s going next. They don’t know who’s going to be president next year. They don’t know to what extent the Kremlin will be controlling the life in Russia, to what extent the managed democracy will be a feasible concept for the future demographic change, far-right moods, et cetera. Russia is at a crossroads, and we don’t know where it’s going.
But nonetheless, I think the best thing we can do to Russia is to promote democracy on Russia’s borders, not least to make those borders more stable. I mean, if North Caucasus is going to blow up, stable Georgia is indispensable in a way. And also, I think it’s good that unlike in 2008, democratization in countries such as Georgia and Ukraine doesn’t have to be linked to the questions of NATO or EU membership anymore.
Also, for various reasons, international mood is different. Ukraine probably doesn’t wish to join NATO, et cetera, because (were caught ?) in a sort of limbo in 2008. Georgia and Ukraine probably didn’t qualify for NATO entry, and that was probably the reason why Germany didn’t want them. And I think it’s actually good and right. We have admitted countries into NATO who didn’t qualify, and I don’t think it’s a good thing. It’s better that countries qualify when they join.
Then again, it was obvious that Georgia and Ukraine couldn’t qualify, because Russia prevented it from happening. And then there were countries such as my own who argued that we must not let Russia dictate terms to us. We must accept them nonetheless, like Baltic States were invited to join NATO without having border treaties with Russia.
So it was not a good situation. In a way, we have to be thankful that the membership question is off the agenda for a while, and we should use that time to work on helping these countries to qualify so that they can join when they want, because qualifying is actually in a way more important than actual membership. Qualifying demonstrates that they are good countries. I mean, then they become like Sweden. You can join NATO anytime you want. (Laughter.) And that is – that is – that is the most desirable position for any country.
And curiously, Russia now, when they think of (our ?) own modernizations and prospects for future reluctantly and hesitatingly, but they are actually adopting some lessons even from Georgia. I mean, you – in Moscow you hear people discussing what Georgia has done right, how Georgia has managed to curb corruption, which is actually amazing. So, I mean, Russia would never admit that it learned something from countries such as Georgia or Baltic States, but it might learn nonetheless without admitting it. And that’s a very good thing.
So I think, summing it up, I think we must accept that democratization will be in the agenda. It is a good thing. It is an end in itself, rather than a function of some other great (gain ?) somewhere. And I think Nordic-Baltic countries have lots of experience, lots of capacity to engage in it, helping other countries. And the U.S would be wise to join our efforts.
MR. NURICK: Kadri, thank you very much.
I’d like now to get two American perspectives on this question of Nordic-Baltic engagement in global issues, or the new and evolving global agenda. First, to my immediate right, Steve Flanagan – Steve is currently holder of the Henry Kissinger Chair and senior vice president at the Center for Science (sic) International Studies here in – International Security, rather, here in Washington. He came there after being director of the Institute for National Security Studies and vice president for research, I believe, at the National Defense University. And before that he had many – a variety of senior positions in the U.S. government, including senior director for Central and Eastern Europe at the NSC, associate director of the policy planning staff in the State Department, and the National Intelligence officer for Europe, as I believe.
Also more recently, as one of the more interesting little sideline activities, he served as an adviser to Madeleine Albright in 2009 and 2010 during the preparation of the so-called Group of Experts Report on the NATO Strategic Concept.
So Steve, again, it’s a great pleasure to have you here as well. Again, two questions for you – we’ve heard a lot over the course of the day about why it’s important for the Nordic-Baltic countries to be engaged in the global security agenda, to think not just about their own region, but beyond.
From an American point of view, thinking about the American politics of this, is that important? And if so, why? What does the U.S. expect? What are its priorities? Where should they – these priorities lie?
Second question, one of the themes sometimes – or, at least, undercurrents that we’ve heard in some of the discussions, there’s a little bit of a worry about whether or not there is a tension between this kind of agenda, this focus, on the global – on the global – items in the global agenda, and concerns about retaining the credibility of Article 5. What do you think about that? Is there a tension? If so, how do we manage it? How serious is it? What do we do about it?
STEVE FLANAGAN: Good. Well, thank you, Bob, and it’s great to be here with a number of good friends that I haven’t sometimes seen for a while. And I congratulate the Atlantic Council for casting a big spotlight on these issues today and through other work that they’ve been doing in this area.
Bob, I’ll try to – I’ll come to your questions in a little bit, starting with the – sort of a strategic assessment perspective and then – and then work back into why the politics of this, I think, is important.
I was struck when I saw the agenda, that it said “should there.” The question was should there be a global agenda. And I guess – and I think you heard from Jim Townsend this morning and others – I’m sorry I couldn’t join you, for a couple of reasons, but – that indeed I think the U.S. official position was that yes, indeed, there has to be a global agenda. And where does that come from?
I think it comes from, in my opinion – and obviously we’re all linked to our own experience, but I do think when you look at it from the perspective of the strategic assessment that was gone through – Bob alluded to the work of Secretary Albright and Mr. van der Veer and the other members of the Group of Experts – the NATO Strategic Concept itself, which didn’t include a robust assessment of the global environment. It was informed by the – some of the work that the Group of Experts was in. And it was said that we do live in a – in a very unpredictable and interconnected global security environment, and that it is essential for all of the allies to be engaged in some form or another in addressing some of these global challenges that are affecting the security of all of us.
And so I guess what I’m going to argue, Bob, is I’m going to make a plea for – first of all, there has been Nordic-Baltic engagement, quite robust engagement, in these global issues. And I think that it’s important that that engagement continue, but I do accept and I do take your point very well, Bob, that there are some tensions about – concerns about regional and more immediate collective defense concerns against contingencies – albeit I think, somewhat remote – of an actual conflict in Central and Eastern Europe.
But I do think that – I do think that a more balanced portfolio – and not looking just for the niche of either Arctic and Eastern partnerships – and this is – I’ll come back to this. I agree with both of the first two speakers in terms of those activities being important, but I do think that they should not be the sole focus or that they should not – they should be part of a broader portfolio that keeps the Nordic and Baltic countries engaged in some of these global challenges.
So I really do come back from that sense that because of the fact that all of our security in the trans-Atlantic community and beyond, including a number of our partners that are outside the Euro-Atlantic structures, are going to be affected by, and are continuing to be affected by, terrorism, on proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, instability in weak and fragile states, the disruptions in the global commons – to include cyber and space as well as energy – and, of course, the Arctic, which is becoming an increasingly important issue.
And I think how these issues are addressed or, as German Minister of Defense de Maizière said quite pointedly, if they’re not addressed, how they’re not addressed by some countries really do have important consequences for the security and the prosperity of the Nordic-Baltic region and the wider Euro-Atlantic community.
So I think it’s incumbent, and I think – I think there is politically, Bob – to answer your question a bit more directly, I think there is a certain resistance. There is, I think – in terms of the Nordic-Baltic standing in Washington and getting attention in Washington, if the notion is, well, let us worry about the High North and the Eastern partnerships and you can manage the rest of the world, I think that’s not a prescription for a long-term, truly full partnership, because that sort of implies that the U.S. and some others continue to do all the heavy lifting and – over time. And I think that’s not a – that’s not the kind of partnership that I think the U.S. would like to see. And I’ll come back to that in my – in my concluding remarks.
Again, that’s not to say – we have to recognize the limits. And certainly with all their capabilities and all of the many resources and intelligence and experience that the Nordic-Baltic countries bring to some of these problems, certainly – I mean, I think the United States and official Washington accepts and understands the limits of those and doesn’t – you know, there is a danger also of expecting too much. But I think the notion of being engaged in these – and again, I think, playing an important role.
And let me just touch on those, just to – I just thought it was useful – I was thinking just to remind myself – and maybe it’s worth just saying here. And again, I’m sorry if I’m repeating some things from this morning, but – you know, and I do think that we need to continue to develop the kind of flexible military capabilities that can deal with – within the alliance, both with limited contingencies dealing with collective defense, but also broader instability farther afield.
And improvements in crisis management and response capabilities and enhanced partnerships with a wider group of governmental and nongovernmental actors, all of these things are part of addressing both some of the near – nearer and closer-to-home security concerns of the Nordic-Baltic region, but also some of these global challenges.
Now again, what I was saying, when you look at how Nordic-Baltic countries are already contributing, it’s really quite remarkable. And even just to look at some of their – you know, of the history of this past summer, when you look at who is – who is making – I would argue in many cases, outsized certainly in terms of their weight within the alliance and the international system – contributions to even Operation Unified Protector in Libya.
Denmark was flying 11 (percent); Norway, 10 percent of the strike sorties in that operation. Finland threw about – flew about 37 percent of the reconnaissance, or was responsible for about 37 percent of the reconnaissance reports delivered to forces participating in that.
In Afghanistan, if you look at the levels of contribution, Denmark, Estonia and Norway have all been among the top-five troop contributors per capita in Afghanistan. And Denmark, Estonia and Latvia have been in the top-seven group of casualties per capita. So those are important and, I think, not unnoticed contributions to global security. Obviously, when you look at U.N. peacekeeping, the Nordic-Baltic countries have always been in the top tier of contributors to those efforts.
And then looking farther afield, of course, you see the development of – and I think again, and not to single out too many countries here, but you know, I think Estonia has been playing a leading role in shaping the assessment and planning and thinking of the – working closely with the U.S. and others on thinking about cybersecurity, Lithuania now trying to develop this role also as a – in the center of excellence on energy security. And clearly, I think, Norway and Denmark and others have been – have been very influential in also focusing attention in Washington on the important and emerging challenges in the Arctic.
So I think all of this is reflective of the fact that this is a mutual partnership, and that – and that these countries are and can continue to contribute to this combined trans-Atlantic approach to dealing with a number of these global challenges. But clearly, it is – and particularly in the current fiscal realities and with governmental resources clearly constrained, there is no doubt that there is an imperative to look at how to balance this portfolio, how to balance the constraints that do exist and how we can look at enhanced cooperation, coordination and pooling and sharing arrangements, and of course, some of which have taken place, in particular the way in which even peacekeeping operations and contributions in Afghanistan have been pooled and shaped within the Nordic-Baltic group in working with other allies and partners in the ISAF coalition.
So I think that – I think that is kind of a – I think it’s a template that’s worked quite well so far and should continue to work, because I do think it does show that these countries are continuing to play a valuable, albeit a somewhat modest, but still a valuable and not unnoticed – and those of you will recall even in Secretary Gates’ rather direct blast about the – both his February 2010 and then his parting shot at the SDA in Brussels about the demilitarization of Europe, about the erosion of European defense capabilities, did note some of these capabilities and some of this capacity where a number of countries – including two Nordic countries that were singled out as contributing well above their weight, in that – in that June speech.
So then, turning to the Arctic and the Eastern Partnership, I commend Kadri’s paper. And I think the comments that Per made about the Arctic – I do think – as you can see in my earlier comments, I think those are important and dimensions where I think that the Nordic-Baltic countries can play an important and leading role, and working in partnership with the United States and other allies who want to continue to contribute.
But I guess I would argue against making those as sort of focal points or the primary niche or only niche, again coming back to the notion of this idea of a more diversified portfolio. And thinking beyond – indeed, I think there’s no doubt about it that the transition experience of the Baltic and other Central and East European countries and their relevance for both the Eastern Partnership countries, for other countries in the Caucasus and Central Asia – I think all of those are – those are probably – that’s the area where some of those experiences and lessons learned are most relevant, particularly for those who were – who were part of the former USSR.
But I do think, to look beyond – and Kadri, I think, alluded to that – if you look at the long-term – and I was just talking to one of the other senior fellows here at the Atlantic Council who’s a Middle East specialist – about what – as she was alluding to with the, you know, the 10-to-30-year-long process of transition we’re going to see in the broader Middle East and in the areas of not only building governance but – and beginning with security sector reform, I do think that some of these lessons of experience in Central/Eastern Europe and in the Nordic-Baltic, particularly in the Baltic countries, can be – can be relevant to this process.
Again, I think we have to be very sensitive in the Middle East and North Africa to see what the demand side is. But I do think this is a – this is a call for action that will require a unified European and American and perhaps some other countries working together to help foster positive political change out of this turmoil and this yearning for freedom and greater justice in the broader Middle East and North Africa, which is obviously going to affect all of our security, beginning with energy flows and – not to mention the potential of further conflict in the region and what that might tell.
So I think – I guess I would close with the – and then just one point on Russia. I do think that the Nordic-Baltic countries do – can contribute an important role in – and indeed they have in many ways in the scope and limits of cooperation with Russia on some of these global security issues.
We’ve seen this in the Arctic on even the – I would argue even on cyber issues, even though we know that some Baltic countries perhaps have been victims of cyberattacks emanating from that country, but – or orchestrated there. I do think that there are some of these areas of activity that could be an important way to – and that those countries who have an understanding of some Russian sensitivities and approaches can be important players.
And I think we see – also, you look at things like Norway’s efforts to have its provincial – to the regional cooperation in the – in the – in the Arctic region with Russia as a way to – even when sometimes there were tensions in that region – to continue cooperation and to explore the limits of cooperation with Russia.
So I guess, in closing, Bob, I think – the United States, when you look back over the last four administrations, I would argue, and serving in two of them – that the United States has wanted Europe to include the Nordic-Baltic region to be – to be fuller partners in promoting global growth and stability. And I think the extent to which the Nordic-Baltic cooperation can advance this goal, the Nordic-Baltic region will gain in standing in Washington and solidify support for and continued attention to some of the less urgent or less pressing but still essential Nordic-Baltic concerns, security concerns.
And so I don’t think there’s any – I don’t think there’s a – I don’t think it’s an either/or proposition. I think you can continue to have the kinds of capabilities we need to ensure the security of all allies. And some of the steps that the Obama administration has moved forward to with contingency planning and exercises to make that real – I think there is no conflict between that and maintaining a balanced engagement in global security for the Nordic-Baltic countries.
MR. NURICK: Thank you very much.
Last but by no means least is Damon Wilson, who I think everyone knows is currently executive vice president here at the Atlantic Council. He ascended to that position after several years as vice president in charge of the National Security Program.
Like Steve, before he came to the Atlantic Council – like Steve Flanagan, he’s had a variety of very interesting positions in the U.S. government, both here in Washington and abroad. Abroad, he served at the Embassy in Baghdad, at the Embassy in Beijing, and for several years in the private office of then-Secretary-General Lord Robertson at NATO.
Here in Washington, he’s been senior director for European affairs at the National Security Council and also director for Central, East European and Northern European affairs at the National Security Council. So again, a very varied set of experiences, with a lot of experience in particular in dealing with issues having to do with the Nordic-Baltic region – so very appropriate also to give an American perspective on the issues before us.
And Damon, I’d like to pose, really, very similar questions to you also. Where do you see the central U.S. interests in Nordic-Baltic security cooperation? How salient are those interests, which may be a more important question. It’s easy to describe interests. How important – how much are they going to matter in the U.S. debate? Where would – where might – where might and should U.S. priorities lie in this regard? And finally, how should the U.S. engage? Where should it encourage? How can it engage in ways that are – that are in fact useful?
DAMON WILSON: Thank you, Bob. Thank you very much, and thank you for your leadership of this project. I really appreciate that.
I want to in my remarks pick up on some of the questions Bob asked and broaden it out in the context of themes we’ve had in our conference today.
I’m going to pick up on the potential of the U.S. partnership with the Nordic-Baltic region, the potential of the region as a global partner of the United States, underscoring some of what Steve has said, yet emphasizing the value of that partnership resulting from a focused agenda, along the lines of what Kadri and Per outlined and play out that tension a little bit.
First, I think we’ve established in the course of the day that we’re talking about a region that really has come and offers the United States problem solving, rather than problem causing. That’s of immense value, given the number of challenges that we’re dealing with right now.
And so really, part of what I’ve been concerned about and focused on as part of this project, but more broadly, is what’s the purpose of all this? What’s the – what’s the vision, what’s the agenda, what’s the purpose of this particular part of the trans-Atlantic partnership? – some of the elements we got into the conversation with President Vike-Freiberga.
Magnus and I, in our – in the paper we did for this report, our thesis was basically that greater Nordic-Baltic cooperation and, indeed, integration offers the region an opportunity to become a top partner of the United States and have an outsized impact on global affairs. When acting together, this region’s a powerful force.
The corollary to our thesis was that for this actually to work, it does actually require U.S. engagement and U.S. support – to disabuse the concerns in the region that greater cooperation and integration actually provides a quiet region – quiet rationale for U.S. disengagement over time.
So let me start with the concept of this region, the premise of the potential of – the global potential of the region. We’ve rolled out some figures and facts before, but I just want to quickly underline them.
When you take the Nordic-Baltic region together, the 10th-largest population in Europe, the fifth-largest GDP, $20 billion-plus defense budget; the second-largest aggregate of fighter aircraft in Europe, after Germany; eighth-largest troop contributor in Afghanistan; was the fifth-largest in Bosnia, sixth in Kosovo. And when you look across the array of soft-power – soft-power indicators, we began today by touting the region’s stellar results in the latest survey on global competitiveness.
But the region’s also at the top of the agenda on the corruption indexes, the freedom indexes. If you look at all these indexes, as we did, pretty powerful indicators – development, humanitarian affairs, collectively forming the second-largest overseas development assistance contributor – that’s pretty substantial.
And so it offers really the potential for the United States as a way for us to rejigger our minds and think about if the region’s increasingly acting together, let’s think about what the region can accomplish on the global stage. And when you aggregate it, it’s actually pretty impressive and worth sort of a wakeup call in Washington to the power that the region offers as a partner for us on a global agenda. What drives this, what moves this forward?
The other thing that we sort of outline in our paper is, what is the nature of this regional integration. And I think – I think if you think about some of those factors in brief, first, Nordic-Baltic cooperation within the region itself is fundamentally just a tool to bring greater effectiveness and more capability to solve practical challenges. That’s a very Scandinavian approach to thinking about challenges, but it’s the driver at the heart, I think, of what’s happening here – practical and, therefore, relevant.
Second, it does, I think, really offer the region an opportunity for strategy to assist the region in managing defense austerity. We’ve talked a little bit about some of the failures of past cooperation in this domain. I think the compelling circumstances of fiscal austerity today actually make multinational defense cooperation in the region a real ripe opportunity for moving forward and actually, in some interesting ways, I think will help show the alliance a way forward in really how to implement smart defense policies – ironically, given the region is not just a NATO member region.
Third, I think the – what I underscored already, the ability to deliver an increased influence and impact on the European agenda, the trans-Atlantic agenda, and the global agenda makes a compelling rationale for the region acting in a more coherent way on a certain set of issues.
Fourth, I think, as it’s underscored some of our conversation, hedging against the potential for the uncertainty of what Russia will look like in the future – who knows. And I think it’s only prudent, only historically informed, to hedge against that. And I think Nordic-Baltic cooperation is a way to think about it.
The corollary to that is that it actually does help achieve deeper Baltic integration into Europe. And I think, as we talked about in a previous discussion today, my concerns have really been about societal resilience, rather than typical hard security issues. And I think the Nordic-Baltic security paradigm offers a real solution to those sets of issues: of how to make your banking system, your media, those types of issues, more resilient to external manipulation.
And finally, I find it – I find what’s happening in the region pretty compelling because I think it can be a forcing event for normalizing relations between NATO and the European Union. And I want to see that go forward.
So part of thinking about the opportunities for this region: What’s the ambition? You’ve got the breadth of – I think we’ve talked about the breadth of partnership. We heard some of that last night, today with – I think, Masha and Jim laid out the sense of this breadth of partnership. But it’s also, where’s the value-added to the partnership. And in many respects, I think this is compelling, where Kadri’s laid out the case in helping to provide momentum for the idea of a Europe whole and free.
We’re going through a strategic review process here at the Atlantic Council, and I kind of think about it in a regional concern as well. As a think tank, you have to figure out what are the issues you can pick, where are the issues you can help shape and move the policy agenda. And I think in many respects the region, while it wants to be, needs to be an actor on the global agenda, you also want to figure out, what are those issues where you can actually help shape and move the policy needle.
On some of the issues on our global agenda, you’ll be contributors that’ll be valued, but you won’t really necessarily shape that needle on some of the issues. And so I think that’s a healthy factor to consider in thinking about the way forward. So as I think about the opportunities for Nordic-Baltic cooperation, it’s with a healthy dose of realization of the limits of Nordic-Baltic cooperation as well.
But if I sort of get into U.S. interests and the way forward, first of all in the region I think there is no real need or, frankly, no real appetite for any revolutionary advancement in Nordic-Baltic cooperation. There’s no great scheme out there, I think, behind this. It’s been the product of pragmatic cooperation, but it’s pragmatic cooperation that does have strategic implications. And it’s the strategic implications that we’ve been wanting folks in Washington to take notice of a little bit more coherently.
And I think it’s up to the region to determine this agenda – hesitant as Americans to tell you what that agenda should be. But it is clear to me the greater coherent action will (fuel ?) greatest – greater interest in the region in Washington because of the leveraged impact you’ll have on a certain set of issues.
I think that part of what’s key here about U.S. policy, coming back to Bob’s first question, is that there is a degree of ranging views and even ambivalence in the region about the future of Nordic-Baltic cooperation, and this is where U.S. policy matters. I think you only actually have a more uniform approach to regional integration if Washington signals its interests and its commitment to engage in this process.
As I – as I mentioned, it can’t be viewed in the region as a justification for U.S. disengagement. That means the U.S. position would actually undermine the motivation behind us, and it’s not in U.S. interests. It’s in our interest to see, I think, this experiment actually succeed. So for the Nordic-Baltic region to become a more effective partner of the United States, there are implications for U.S. policy.
And I think – I think the U.S. government has gone quite a long way in trying to advance this agenda. We heard from Jim and Masha the outlines of this today. Folks like Kathy (sp) are working this every day at the State Department.
But what I’d like to see going forward is a clear policy statement of the U.S. position behind how it sees Nordic-Baltic integration and the opportunities for U.S. partnership on this. We had the kernel of that in this morning’s conversation; I’d like to see in the region a more senior-level and a clear policy statement putting that forward.
Second, beginning to use e-PINE – and which I think the administration has picked up and used quite effectively, but beginning to use the e-PINE as a network to actually coordinate on certain key policy issues, not just as a consultation shop, but identifying what issues you can actually coordinate in advance real policy items on.
Third, I think – (inaudible) – increasingly focus in on the value-added of the region’s ability to shape issues, for the U.S. to work with the Nordic-Baltic partners as our go-to partners on how to deal with Europe’s East. The Eastern neighborhood came out of thinking in this region. How we handle, I think, Belarus, Ukraine, Moldova, Georgia – I’d like this to be seen, as this cadre outlined, as the go-to partnership for navigating that way, that set of issues forward, whether it has – whether it – including the implications within the European Union and NATO.
Fourth, I also think it’s important for the United States to find a few symbolic and real ways to participate in some Nordic-Baltic cooperation issues, to signal this type of involvement. Whether that’s joining a more coherent, sustained air policing effort over Iceland, where – led by dominant Nordic assets but with U.S. participation, participation of officers in the Baltic Defence College network – some key, specific ways to demonstrate U.S. engagement, and that’s – there’s a set of cooperation issues.
And then the last two, finally, engaging the Nordic-Baltic (egg ?) as an entity in and of themselves. I’d love to see Secretary Clinton join one of the NB-8 foreign ministers’ meetings, perhaps something on the margins of the OSCE ministerial that will occur in Vilnius, where the Lithuanians will be hosting the OSCE, but also functioning at the time as the secretariat for the NB-8 process.
And potentially, if the substance merits it, President Obama has done some meetings with regional counterparts in a regional context. If the substance can merit it, you have the potential to think about a presidential engagement at the NB-8 leaders’ level eventually.
And finally, I think a major U.S.-Nordic-Baltic effort to put a serious proposal on the table to break the logjam on NATO-EU cooperation would play on the intellectual strengths coming out of the region, the natural synergies that the region offers on this complicated set of issues, and would give us a real sort of agenda to push forward, both at the Chicago Summit next May, as well as a next U.S.-EU summit.
So with that, let me conclude and turn it back to you, Bob.
MR. NURICK: Thank you very much. I’m going to forego my – the normal chairman’s or moderator’s prerogative and pose the question – the first question. Because we’re very limited for time, I want to go right immediately to the audience.
Please signal to me if you’d like to pose a question or make a quick comment. We have about 8 minutes, so please try to be concise.
Q: Yeah. Thanks, Bob. I wonder --
MR. NURICK: The microphone – yeah.
Q: Thanks very much, and thanks to the very valuable comments from the participants in this panel.
I wanted to just pick up on something that Damon said, because in fact perhaps it’s – it would be pertinent for the U.S. to look at what the U.K. is doing with their sort of – this current government’s engagement in NB-8, holding a summit and inviting the NB-8 prime ministers to London in January of this year. A very clear policy statement that came out of that from Liam Fox when – you know, when we were counterparts as defense ministers. I was quite surprised that suddenly, you know, here was a British defense secretary saying that the U.K. is a Nordic country. (Chuckles.) And so, I mean, I think this is something that perhaps should also be borne in mind.
What I also want to mention is the Polish aspect, where to my mind, I think really we haven’t perhaps – although we’ve mentioned en passant the question of the contingency plans, I take the view from the Latvian perspective that in fact Poland is strategically also very important to the region, you know, but essentially important to us because we’re now linked in the NATO planning aspect, but also I think there’s a lot to be said for – and to examine what Poland is doing, their presidency of the European Union at the moment there, engagement in the Weimar Triangle, the weight of their bringing sort of two defense and security issues in Europe, and moving along and joining, sort of, the French and Germans, I think, is very important. That’s only – to my mind, that can only benefit also the region.
And the final point, on the sort of capabilities aspect that Steve was referring to, can I say that I was, as minister, particularly impressed by something that I wasn’t aware of vis-à-vis our own capabilities, which was thanks to the close cooperation with the Michigan National Guard? And this is, of course, the – it’s called the JTAC, the Joint Tactical Air Control, issue, where this is precisely a type of capability that is used in expeditionary missions. You know, it has been used in operations – in the operation in Afghanistan, our soldiers serving with U.S. soldiers.
But as a major in the Latvian Army recently reminded me, you know, this is actually an extremely important capability. And I think here, where we’re already beginning to train Polish soldiers on this capability because of the fact that some of our soldiers have reached that level, I think that’s also something that we can bring onto the table. A small, but very, very important issue – thanks.
MR. NURICK: Thanks – (inaudible). I think I’ll take one more question, then get responses and also from the other panelists.
Q: Thank you very – thank you very much for this stimulating discussion. I repeat a little bit what I heard in the beginning on the – (word inaudible) – and then make some remark – further remarks.
All these things related to our common work in Nordic Scandinavian cooperation or community, fine. We must go further, deepen and strengthen. All these ideas of our cooperation related to United States – broader responsibility – Ms. Liik used this very nice expression that we should not leave all the weights to be lifted to the United States. So we must lift all the weights, which only are possible.
But there was one weight we don’t have much to lift, and that’s related to the hedging – what you said, hedging towards Russia. This happens to be region what was the last corner in Europe not taken over by Byzantic or Roman Church. So 1,000 years ago they met there, and it became a battlefield of these two churches. Since those days, we have been in a way in the meeting place of two tectonic plates. And we have lived in the middle of these two tectonic plates for 1,000 years.
Now, first time in history these two tectonic plates are in peace. And this a mission from (our side ?), the United States: Please take care these tectonic plates keep calm. (Laughter.)
But for the case, there would be some trembling. Sweden and Finland, we simply don’t have the muscle to lift the weight of taking responsibility of the Baltic countries. The fundamental issue of the stability of this corner is that through NATO membership, the Baltic countries can be sure that there’s guarantees from the United States. Because if this fundamental element is missing, then many things will miss also.
So whatever we do in the perspective of developing – internally, externally – cooperation, please let these states understand that there would not be any surprises or frustrations if at some time Sweden and Finland say, by the way, “We can’t do that.”
We will be involved. We work in the security cooperation also with the Baltic countries. But in this issue, there is, after these 1,000 years of history, certain experience of our potentials. Because we have also our own region to be taking care of. We have also in Finland 1,000 kilometers of this common borderline. And the – today, this region is the place where Western world or European Union or Western world have the borderline with Russia. We are not speaking about war or coming war or something like that. We are speaking about such a structure, which will prevent any idea even thinking about war.
MR. NURICK: Well, thank you very much.
I think what I’d like to do – we’ve just almost run out of time. I want to give our panelists a moment for some final thoughts. And before we get there, I want to pose two final questions, one each to Per and Kadri.
Per, the discussion – you refer to this also in your paper, but the discussion here and earlier has talked about sorting out some of the institutional overlap in dealing – in various parts of the security agenda in the Nordic-Baltic region and in Europe more generally. And most typically, that – the focus of this is sorting out the NATO-EU relationship, but clearly there’s a similar, or at least analogous – problem in Arctic.
There’s a plethora of institutions with different mandates and so on. You’ve mentioned in – that in particular the Arctic Council should be the place for this synthetic thinking and planning to be done. You referred to the need to broaden its mandate. Do you also have to broaden, in addition to its mandate, its membership? How do you deal with this problem? Is this going to be a problem or an opportunity to sort out some of these institutional questions?
And for Kadri, there’s a very interesting issue that I think has come up in light of your earlier comment and some of the comments here about the relationship between the outreach agenda and the Russia on the one hand, and policy towards Russia on the other.
You mentioned, I thought, a very interesting comment, which I hadn’t thought about, that we should take advantage of the fact that outreach now does not have to be linked to questions of membership in NATO and the EU
Elsewhere we’ve heard – and many of the Americans feel frustrated at the – at the lack of momentum behind the notion of Europe whole and free. And the implication is that we need some kind of statement, which is going to revivify that, which is going to give it – going to give it a bit more momentum.
That’s really in some ways a reflection on our own debates to make sure that – to send a signal that the U.S. is committed to that. How do – are these (intention ?)? How do you give a – how does the U.S. give a signal of its continued support for engagement in the notion of further outreach of its own, of commitment to bringing the remaining transitional democracies in Europe East into the Euro-Atlantic fold without raising the problem that you, I think very rightly, described, or at least obviating an opportunity, which you described.
So let me – let me put those on the table and then go in reverse order to – before for final remarks and reactions to the questions. Damon, let me start with you.
MR. WILSON: Certainly. I think Imants’s point on the British model, we actually do reference that in our paper, because I think it’s a pretty remarkable – you had a British policy that went from somewhat ambivalence or just ignorance to clarity. And I think it offered a good model in terms of the signaling of how I’d like to see concretized U.S. support for its happening, but also some – both concrete project-based engagement and political engagement in the process. So I applaud the British approach to this, and I think it’s a good model for thinking about U.S. signaling as well.
But I do think the discussion sort of as what you mentioned, Imants, picking up on – (word inaudible) – common theme throughout the course of the day is that Nordic-Baltic cooperation cannot be a substitute for bilateral relations that the United States has with each of the eight countries, certainly not a substitute for the ironclad commitment of Article 5 at NATO, for the relevant countries, for the EU membership for relevant countries.
I think this is premised on the backbone of variable geometry. And that, I think, is how you open the door to – you’ve got a good rhythm, a good culture of creating, as President Vike-Freiberga said, going from five-plus-three to just eight. There’s no reason on your variable geometry that Poland shouldn’t be part of some of these discussions; Germany shouldn’t be part. Obviously, a coherent Baltic Sea strategy requires them to be at the table.
So I think you have to think about what we’re talking about Nordic-Baltic cooperation as part of a spectrum. And it’s been underutilized and underappreciated in the past, and now what I think we’re doing is Washington’s noticing, wow, it’s there and it’s kind of relevant. And we’re imagining where this can go forward, but not in any way that it begins to undermine what NATO represents, what our bilateral relationships represent, what the European Union represents, and it doesn’t deny the reality of the need for variable geography (sic) on specific issues. That’s –
MR. NURICK: Steve --
MR. FLANAGAN: (Off mic) – what Damon said about the variable geometry. On Imants’s other point, I do think you’re absolutely right that the niche – some of these niche capabilities have been very important and in a sense these tactical air controllers, as – maybe as even – and oftentimes in Special Forces units, and that’s been another area in contributing to the development of NATO’s capabilities in Special Forces, in providing units to operations in Afghanistan and elsewhere have been an important contributions where again, I think that even the smallest Baltic states have been able to, you know, make major – you know, significant contributions to current and taxing operations. So you know, you don’t need – in dealing with some of these irregular and nontraditional contingencies, you don’t need – you don’t need big forces or specific, you know, major platforms to make an important contribution.
MR. NURICK: Thank you.
MS. LIIK: Thank you. It’s a good and complicated question, you know, you ask from me. (Again ?), a U.S. signal, it’s a – (word inaudible) – without bringing the typical question of membership back into agenda.
I think – I mean, U.S. should demonstrate serious dedication and engagement. I think there is too much imitation of politics in the world. I mean, it’s especially visible in the European Union. They often imitate policymaking, rather than actually making it. (Laughter.) And visibility is often end-goal, rather than by-product of good politics.
And I get irritated, for example, when I get asked, “Should NATO be more visible in the Baltics?” No. It’s not visibility we need. We want to be a boring, ordinary NATO member with all that comes along with it –contingency planning, et cetera. We don’t need any special kind of visibility.
And I think when it comes to democratization, it’s more important to really demonstrate that we care about it and we are – we are prepared to sacrifice resources – and not just money, but even more intellectual and diplomatic energy. I think that is in much bigger deficit than money. Throwing money on countries doesn’t solve problems. You have to throw attention on them. I think that is what is – what is – what is needed, really – and demonstrate countries, that they can get better access to United States or other prestigious international – (word inaudible) – if they – if they do their homework, et cetera. I think that is what is most needed. Now again, I understand that there is need to be inspired by, you know, some deep concept. And I am – we can think of that later, what that might be.
I think the United States should be consistent about democracy and human rights. These things really – for a time nearly disappeared from political vocabulary. And that was – that was bad. Now they are coming back, and I think they should be consistent back there, and we should explain it consistently to Russia as well, that we actually mean it when I say it.
Bill Clinton managed that fairly well. I mean, he managed to keep Russia on board, at the same time help Russia’s neighbors to become democracies and join the organizations. And I don’t think that membership is off-limits either.
I think that vision of the 1990s that countries are free and fair to join organizations if they qualify, I think that is – that is still out there. And people who sincerely believe in it are still out there as well, and it can be revived probably quite unexpectedly, probably with some quite innocent NATO enlargement, be it into Bosnia or Sweden. Or you know, the full fundamental of NATO enlargement can be discussed once again when some sort of enlargement is about to happen.
So I don’t exclude that, but I think we shouldn’t – the full democratization shouldn’t be strictly linked to that, especially as we see that it doesn’t work in Ukraine, say, as the same sort of motivator it was for the Baltic States. We did many things in order to be able to join NATO and the European Union. That really was a powerful drive for us. It doesn’t quite function that way there, so let’s use breathing space we now have to do some really mundane work on the field. And then, you know, when I get back to big, overarching concepts of membership – (inaudible) – will be much easier to handle.
MR. NURICK: OK. Thank you.
Per, final words?
MR. AUGUSTSSON: Thank you – finale words. Yeah, the question on institutions for the Arctic is a really interesting one, I think. And the way we do it now is that different experts go with different ministers, with different portfolios to EU meetings or IMO meetings or meetings at NATO or the Barents cooperation, also in different circles of countries, to discuss Arctic-related issues.
And also, of course, the Arctic Council, the only institution which is exclusively focused on the Arctic, has traditionally focused only on some issues on the agenda – environment, sustainable development, and so on, although there has been a development over the last years also going into issues such as search-and-rescue and so on.
So there is an interesting development going on at the Arctic Council, and that is what I think is the right way forward. And countries are also saying this now: that we need a council, an Arctic Council, with a broader mandate, with ability to discuss a broader range of issues, to see broader perspectives than we have seen so far in a group, around a table with the most interested countries.
And it’s – your last question on the group, on the countries, it’s not only the members, but there are also observer countries and also organizations, by the way, and several knocking on the door to get into the Arctic Council. And of course it’s important to let them in, including the European Union. And Italy has – is also on the waiting list, and others.
MR. NURICK: Good. Well, thank you very much. We’re going to conclude with some – happily, two members of the diplomatic corps have offered to give some final observations, which – so I’d ask you to keep your seats while prepare them with their microphones. And in the meantime, please thank our four panelists for what I thought were very, very interesting and thoughtful presentations. Thank you all very much.