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Today, the two-day international conference “The Baltic Sea Strategy – a New Challenge for Knowledge-Based Regional and Local Governance and Integrated Co-operation” began in Tallinn. The President of the Riigikogu Ene Ergma made a welcome speech to conference participants at the Riigikogu Conference Hall. Ergma noted in her speech that the Baltic Sea Strategy adopted by the European Council in October 2009 aims to unite us in a targeted and joint action. “I am very pleased that, by today, the idea initiated by the European Parliament has been written into an extensive action plan and it is a practical document with its concrete supra-regional projects. When we implement these projects, we promote the common interests of the Baltic Sea region, strengthen the ties and create the links which help us ensure the feeling of security in the whole region,” said Ergma. The President of the Riigikogu stressed that a very large part of the strategy is targeted to solving the environment problems and improving the competitiveness of the Baltic Sea region. Creation of common maritime surveillance system, increasing readiness for fighting against pollution, increasing the free movement of knowledge – these are very important issues in our common space. In Ergma’s words, in Riigikogu, specialised committees and the European Union Affairs Committee keep an eye on the relevant topic and work on the Baltic Sea Strategy.

“In order that the Baltic Sea Strategy would be a living document, all Baltic Sea countries need to follow it, and to improve and amend the action plan where necessary. Hopefully, the methods and innovations implemented in regional strategies can be applied for better cooperation of EU member states in the future,” believed Ergma.
The Minister of Regional Affairs Siim Valmar Kiisler also spoke to the conference guests today.In the afternoon, a round table discussion of the conference will begin at Tallinn City Council, on the topics of the challenge for local and regional cooperation and drawing up an agenda for a sustainable network.
Tomorrow, on 9 March, a plenary session will take place at the Tallinn hall of Tallinn University where the President of the Republic Toomas Hendrik Ilves and Rector of Tallinn University Rein Raud will make welcome speeches. Plenary papers will be by the President of the Riigikogu Ene Ergma, representatives of the Presidency of the Council of the European Union and the European Commission, the Education Minister of Denmark and the Minister of Nordic Cooperation Bertel Haarder and the Mayor of Tallinn Edgar Savisaar. The main reports of the panels will be by the Minister of Foreign Affairs Urmas Paet, Adviser of the Swedish Government Offices Alexander Schenk and Director of International Affairs of the Association of Finnish Local and Regional Authorities Heikki Telakivi. In the afternoon, panel discussions will follow, focusing on the challenges for local and regional cooperation arising from the Baltic Sea Strategy.
The Riigikogu Press Service