On 6 and 7 September 2023, Riga and Cēsis hosted the meeting of the Ministers of Foreign Affairs of the Nordic countries and Baltic States (NB8). The Ministers discussed matters vital for the region, including support to Ukraine, holding Russia accountable for the crime of aggression, as well as regional security, energy and climate related challenges, and further cooperation between the NB8 countries.
Latvia was represented at the event by the Prime Minister Krišjānis Kariņš in his capacity of acting Minister of Foreign Affairs.
The Prime Minister Krišjānis Kariņš underlined: “The aim of this meeting between representatives from the Nordic and Baltic countries, the Foreign Ministers, was to speak about how we can better help Ukraine, how to coordinate our cooperation better, and send a message to the world, especially the countries further away from Europe, that Russia’s brutal war against Ukraine is actually an imperialist war. During the meeting, we stressed that Russia will have to answer for the crimes it is committing in Ukraine. We discussed the energy security and independence of our region: we have successfully rid ourselves of dependency on Russia’s energy resources, but important work still remains to be done, namely, increasing renewable energy capacity. It must be achieved that electricity produced this way is competitive for our citizens and businesses, so that our region would not only endure the times of war, but also emerge from it even stronger and more resilient to the future challenges. One thing is clear: as friends, we stand together and support Ukraine, which will win this war.”
The Ministers agreed that a close Nordic-Baltic cooperation is particularly important for the security and resilience of our region, given that our region is strongly affected by geopolitical changes. In addition, Sweden’s accession to NATO will offer even more opportunities for in-depth NB8 cooperation on defence.
The Ministers visited the Defence Partnership Latvia company in the city of Cēsis, which is a vivid example of defence cooperation between the Nordic and Baltic countries. The Patria armoured personnel carriers are being assembled at the company facilities. Sweden and Germany have joined a contract signed between Latvia, Finland, and the Patria company on research and development of a joint 6x6 armoured vehicle system on the basis of the Patria vehicles. The Patria armoured personnel carriers are used by Latvia’s National Armed Forces.
Taking part in the meeting were the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Denmark, Lars Løkke Rasmussen, the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Estonia, Margus Tsahkna, the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Finland, Elina Valtonen, the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Iceland, Thórdís Kolbrún Reykfjörd Gylfadóttir, the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Lithuania, Gabrielius Landsbergis, the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Norway, Anniken Huitfeldt, and the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Sweden, Tobias Billström,
In 2023, Latvia is coordinating NB8 cooperation at the level of ministries of foreign affairs. The meeting of NB8 Ministers of Foreign Affairs is the main event of the coordination year. Latvia’s priorities for the year of its NB8 chairmanship are the strengthening of a rules-based international order, military security and deterrence capabilities, and resilience.
The NB8 (Nordic–Baltic Eight) partnership comprises Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Iceland, Latvia, Lithuania, Norway, and Sweden. Cooperation between the Nordic and Baltic countries has been very close since early 1990s. They were active in the N5+B3 format, which was transformed into the NB8 format in 2007.
In 2023, Latvia leads the NB8 cooperation at the level of ministries of foreign affairs. At the parliamentary level and that of defence ministries, cooperation is coordinated by Sweden. Sweden is taking over cooperation at the foreign ministry level next year.
An important mode of the NB8 cooperation are joint visits by officials abroad, which reaffirm the region’s unity and values. This past spring, Latvia organised a joint trip by the foreign ministers to Moldova and Ukraine.