At the 41st Session of the Baltic Assembly in Riga, Johannes Schraps, President of the BSPC, underscored how vital it was in the wake of the Russian war of aggression in Ukraine for democratic societies to stand together. In particular, he highlighted the long-standing cooperation between the BSPC and the Baltic Assembly that would continue to deepen ties and build trust when unity was most needed.
President Schraps noted the personal connections between the two organisations. During a time of fundamental challenges, such close togetherness was of great value. He pointed out how important it was that the democratic states of the Baltic Sea region and their institutions underlined the continuation of their close cooperation and sent signs of unity and commonality.
BSPC President Schraps stressed the great importance of signals of such close cooperation to be sent by freely elected parliaments representing the people in their countries to strengthen the parliamentary dimension and the democratic foundations. An even more intensive and open exchange of views and joint results in the current cruel situation was crucial, he said. Russia’s unprovoked invasion of Ukraine, the ongoing war, the shameful referendums in Ukrainian regions along the Russian border, the renewed, deeply shocking bombing of cities and infrastructure across Ukraine without any regard for civilians and the associated blatant Russian threats of an escalation of the war were a threat to democratic values as a whole and would mark a watershed for cooperation in the Baltic Sea region.
Mr Schraps fully supported the statement by the Baltic Assembly from 22nd September regarding the recent outrageous activities of the Russian Federation.
In line with that, the BSPC had from the start strongly condemned the cruel and horrible war in the middle of Europe and suspended the Russian parliaments. The organisation had strengthened its Rules of Procedure to underline the BSPS’s united ambition to continue to fight for peace and democracy as well as environmental sustainability. More vital than ever, the BSPC had maintained and intensified the parliamentary dimension of international cooperation in the Baltic Sea region. Mr Schraps offered his hope that the new situation would allow the democratic countries and regions to work on issues which could not be addressed before, particularly security issues.
However, this was a fundamental turning point in history, confronting this generation with its most significant challenges and their consequences: first the pandemic; now the cruel war in the middle of Europe; an upcoming catastrophic global famine; and before that, alongside it and in the future, the climate crisis and its effects were becoming ever stronger and were now additionally combined with a fundamental energy crisis. That required long-standing, close, reliable and trusting cooperation to find adequate solutions for such demanding challenges.
President Schraps underscored the intensive and efficient cooperation between the Baltic Assembly and the BSPC for many years. Their cooperation was based on mutual trust, on reliability and friendship. That was exemplified by the same people in both organisations, their common goals and similar priorities. Both enriched each other and delivered synergy effects on a broader level. The keywords of the Baltic Assembly’s presidency – partnership, prosperity, protection – suited the work of the BSPC: The guiding principles of the current BSPC Presidency of the German Bundestag were strengthening democracy and promoting peace. The BSPC saw it as indispensable to continue to cooperate as intensively as it is possible on the international level and to keep up the dialogue with each other, frankly and trustfully.
Despite growing polarization in societies and party groups, dialogue among each other must not be cut. Disunity and permanent dissent between the democratic states weakened them and would only favour the aggressor. For that reason, Europe’s most important answer to this turning point of history was: unity.
Therefore, collaboration and trust had to be deepened, dialogue and cooperation had to be maintained and intensified – for the benefit of the people whom the parliaments were representing. In the margins of the session, BSPC President and BSPC Secretary General discussed a range of issues with representatives of the Baltic Assembly, the Nordic Council, the Parliamentary Assembly of the OECD, the Benelux Parliament, members of the attending parliaments, the European Commissioner for the Environment, government members, as well as with laureates of the Baltic Assembly prizes.