BSPC Vice Chairman Jörgen Pettersson from the Åland Islands points out the crucial importance of further strengthening the interparliamentary cooperation in order to look for answers to international challenges, such as the migration and refugee crisis as well as the threats posed by terrorism.
Mr Pettersson addressed the European Conference of Presidents of Parliaments in Strasbourg on 15 September 2016 on the common points of view and recommendations of the BSPC, agreed during the 25th Baltic Sea Parliamentary Conference with regard to these International challenges.
Platform for open parliamentary dialogue
Mr Pettersson underlined the BSPC’s role as a platform for open parliamentary dialogue to overcome the cold war and to establish the Baltic Sea as a sea of freedom and cooperation. “Cooperation and dialogue are indispensable to prevent conflict and promote joint progress”, opined Mr Pettersson.
Need for mutual trust and dialogue
Against the background of the BSPC’s Silver Jubilee, he emphasized that this vision has not changed. He referred to paragraph 2 of the resolution of the 25th Baltic Sea Parliamentary Conference, in which the Baltic Sea parliamentarians call on the governments in the Baltic Sea region to take further steps to re-establish mutual trust and dialogue in the Baltic Sea Region, in particular within the Council of the Baltic Sea States. Further, he referred to the BSPC’s call to welcome mutual cooperation and peaceful solutions of international disputes, taking into account best practices for example in the Baltic Sea Region, citing the case of his homeland, Åland, as a great example of crisis management. Thanks to international agreements in 1921, Åland is a neutralized and demilitarized autonomy in the Baltic Sea; in daily life referred to as “The islands of peace”.
He reiterated the importance of bearing this approach in mind, especially against the background of the current situation in Europe. “A fair solution that can be accepted by all involved sites can only be achieved by dialogue and cooperation, particularly in times of crises”, Mr Pettersson stated.
Ongoing refugee crisis
Referring to the situation of refugees in Europe, Mr Pettersson illustrated the “worst living nightmares” of fathers and mothers. “They cannot guarantee their children’s safety. They lack power to make decisions. They flee for their lives with their kids clinging to their parents. That’s not dignified. It’s not human. It’s not what our ancestors expected from us when they rebuilt Europe after the war. We do not only owe ourselves to act in a civilized manner. We are in debt to those who shaped our continent and we are in even greater debt to them who are not yet born but have every right to grow up and shape their own future and their own happiness. We need action to make that happen.”
Mr Pettersson emphasized that the large number of refugees will remain a challenge for the foreseeable future, stressing that individual countries could not address the problem with merely national solutions. Therefore, the BSPC had called on the governments in the Baltic Sea Region “to closely work together in coping with the ongoing challenges connected with the refugees in the region and to continue to ensure the decent treatment of and the right to safe asylum for these refugees in the countries of the Baltic Sea Region” as well as to “foster closer cooperation and, as far as necessary, following EU respectively UN declarations in tackling illegal and irregular migration.”
Meetings in the margins of the conference
The BSPC Vice Chairman also met with the Speaker of the Council of the Russian Federation, Ms Valentina Matvienko, and the President of the German Bundestag, Prof. Dr. Norbert Lammert, in the margins of the conference.