BSPC President Jörgen Pettersson and the head of the delegation of the Finnish Parliament to the BSPC, Kari Kulmala, attended the 47th Plenary Session of the Interparliamentary Assembly of the CIS Member Nations in St. Petersburg. In his address to the Assembly, Jörgen Pettersson highlighted the necessity of strengthening the interparliamentary cooperation as well as the influence of parliaments related to the democratic values. He also pointed out the necessity of a strong parliamentary support and involvement in the Cultural dialogue. He was referring to a report by the BSPC Rapporteur for Cultural Affairs to the Baltic Sea Parliamentary Conference on the importance of cultural heritage.
In particular, he said:
‘On behalf of the Baltic Sea Parliamentary Conference, I would like to thank you for the opportunity to address the 47th Plenary Session of the Interparliamentary Assembly of the CIS Member Nations here in St. Petersburg.
The BSPC, consisting of 22 parliaments and 5 parliamentary organisations around the Baltic Sea, was founded in 1991 with the primary goal of creating a platform for open parliamentary dialogue to the Baltic Sea as a sea of freedom, prosperity and cooperation.
My homeland, the Åland Islands, are particularly aware of the need for and committed to international parliamentary cooperation because of our history. Thanks to international agreements nearly a hundred years ago, we today have guaranteed, neutralised and demilitarised autonomy in the Baltic Sea; Åland is known as ‘the islands of peace’. We hope to inspire others with our history of peace-making in practice.
We must strengthen interparliamentary cooperation as well as the influence of parliaments. We are the voice of the people. Their common will is of crucial importance in order to look for answers to international challenges such as the threats posed by terrorism which you were intensively discussing one year ago in this hall at your 25th anniversary.
We parliamentarians as representatives of the citizens in our countries need to continuously work on deepening dialogue between countries. We also have to find compromises and cooperation related to the democratic values to face future international challenges and possibilities.
We see the need for cooperation not only in the Baltic Sea area but also beyond. Peace, love and understanding are the foundations upon which civilisation is created.
We have underlined in our resolution that we want to intensify the cooperation in the Baltic Sea Region, including the Northern Dimension, the EU Strategy for the Baltic Sea Region and the Strategy for the Socio-Economic Development of the North West Federal District of Russia.
Your Assembly focuses in this year especially on the field of culture and cultural heritage. This policy area is also particularly suitable for interparliamentary cooperation.
For the BSPC, this is also an important policy field. The Baltic Sea Region has an outstanding diverse and attractive cultural life and a cultural heritage of great value. We see the necessity of a strong parliamentary support and involvement in the Cultural dialogue. Therefore, we have had a Rapporteur on Cultural Affairs for years. She has followed developments in this area and reported to the conference in recent years. Last year’s report focuses on the importance of cultural heritage, also with a view to the European Year of Cultural Heritage 2018.
The Baltic Sea Parliamentary Conference in Åland which will be opened by the President of the Republic of Finland on 27 August 2018 will offer dialogue, debate, solutions, friendship and a strong will to increase cooperation and prosperity in the region.
The main themes of our conference will be cooperation, maritime policy and sustainable energy.
We will also include the young generation in our deliberations and give them the opportunity to discuss their recommendations on the United Nations 2030 development goals which they will elaborate one week before at a youth summit called ReGeneration 2030.
We are the Islands of Peace, and we want the whole of the Baltic Sea (and the rest of the world) to follow our example: for the benefit of hope and the never-ending search for a better life!
In the margins of the conference, the representatives of the BSPC had talks with representatives of the Parliamentary Assemblies of the OECD, of PABSEC and of the Mediterranean.