The Council of the Baltic Sea States (CBSS) Secretariat celebrated its 25th anniversary with a forum event at its premises in Stockholm, Sweden, on 25 April 2023. The event featured several panel discussions on the CBSS, emphasizing the organisation’s achievements and regional impact.
Presentations and discussions at the forum traced the history and accomplishments of the CBSS and its Secretariat, highlighting the organisation’s legacies and achievements, while also examining the development of regional cooperation in the Baltic Sea Region (BSR) over the past decades and future orientations.
“The CBSS has a proven track record of results,” said Tobias Billström, the Swedish Minister for Foreign Affairs, in his opening remarks as guest of honour, commending the CBSS for its activities and response to the challenges faced by the Baltic Sea Region in the past decades. He further highlighted people-to-people contacts, civil security and support to Ukraine as areas where the CBSS has an added-value.
“The threads of the proverbial web [of regional cooperation in the BSR] come together in the CBSS”, said Ambassador Catalina Cullas from the German Federal Foreign Office and representative of the German CBSS Presidency, citing the Baltic Offshore Wind Forum, the CBSS Youth Ministerial and the upcoming CBSS Ministerial Session in Wismar on 1-2 June 2023 as prime examples of successful use of the CBSS structures for advancing the BSR development agenda.
She also said that “it was not always plain sailing for the CBSS”, notably referring to the unprovoked Russian war of aggression against Ukraine and subsequent suspension and withdrawal of Russia from the CBSS.
In the panel discussion titled “Historical waves – tracing the history and accomplishments of the CBSS and its Secretariat,” panelists and former CBSS Director Generals Maira Mora, Jan Lundin, Gabriele Kotschau, Hannu Halinen, and Baltic Sea Region youth representative Silva Laure explored the organization’s past achievements and lessons learned for the future.
Meanwhile, the “Successful Collaboration in the Baltic Sea Region” panel featured Deputy Head of the EU Commission Representation in Sweden Erik von Pistohlkors, Director of International Relations at the Swedish Institute Kurt Bratteby, and Special Advisor at the Swedish Civil Contingencies Agency (MSB) Bengt Sundelius, discussing effective cooperation strategies and their regional impact.
The 25th anniversary celebration was held on April 25, 2023, during Sweden’s EU Presidency, and was attended by around 100 guests, including Swedish government officials, CBSS Member and Observer State embassies in Sweden, EU Commission representatives, and other Stockholm-based stakeholders.