December 5, 2012

Next year, Estonia will hold the presidency of the Nordic-Baltic cooperation programme, which helps countries in the Caucuses and Balkans to modernise their national defence.

The programme, called the Nordic-Baltic initiative, supports security sector reform in Georgia, Ukraine and the Western Balkan nations. These nations are also assisted in establishing civil control of their armed forces and in increasing their readiness for joining the European Union and NATO.

Minister of Defence Urmas Reinsalu said that next year Estonia wishes to increase the visibility of the Nordic-Baltic initiative. “The status of presidency will provide Estonia with a good opportunity to make the cooperation between the Nordic and Baltic nations even closer, and to identify new projects and partners,” he said.

“We can do much more in terms of sharing our experience in building our national defence with those nations for whom a number of challenges and reforms still lie ahead. That way, we will help to strengthen stability and security in the backyard of Europe,” Reinsalu added.

Next year, Estonia will be responsible for actually overseeing the work of the steering group of the Nordic-Baltic initiative. Furthermore, through its presidency of the Nordic-Baltic initiative, Estonia will administer the Southern Caucasus and Moldova roundtable, which organises defence cooperation with four nations: Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia and Moldova.

In 2012, the presidency of the Nordic-Baltic initiative was held by Sweden. Major projects this year have included a training programme co-managed by the Nordic-Baltic initiative and the UK for security sector officials in Georgia, a retraining and post-traumatic stress project in Bosnia and Herzegovina, and support for regional training centres in the Western Balkans.

The Nordic-Baltic initiative is part of the Nordic-Baltic Eight (NB8) cooperation format involving eight nations: Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Iceland, Finland, Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia.