Estonia and Sweden present report on future closer cooperation
Text Mark Taylor
On September 7, a report on future cooperation between Estonia and Sweden was published. In it, four main areas of closer cooperation between the countries were highlighted – digitaliation, climate change, energy policy and sustainable forestry.
For Urmas Reinsalu (the Minister of Foreign Affairs) the nations of Estonia and Sweden have been historically very close. After Estonia’s reindependence those close personal ties were rekindled with the reuniting of families and Sweden played an important role in helping the young Estonia develop into a modern and established democratic state. However, as Estonia has grown and established itself as an independent state and as those with personal ties to Sweden have aged and passed away. There is now a younger generation on both sides of the Baltic Sea that are not as close as previous generations.
This is why the report on Estonia-Sweden future cooperation was initiated, along with similar reports for cooperation with Latvia and Finland. In it, the report highlights four key areas of future closer cooperation between the nations. But unlike earlier in Estonia’s history, Professor Raul Eamets explains, “only proposals that were mutually beneficial were included”.
The four main areas of future cooperation are:
- Climate change – Is perhaps the major challenge of our time. Therefore, the report highlighted the importance of joint research projects, the development of offshore wind parks, the removal of microplastics from the environment, along with other areas of possible collaboration. “A wind park connected only connected to Latvia, or only to Estonia or Sweden. It would be much wiser to have a network of transmission that different countries are all connected to the same wind park and share the energy because consumption is different at different times,” said Eamets.
- Digitalisation – The report also highlighted the great potential to learn from each other in cybersecurity, blockchain technology, AI, and digital health. “Both Estonia and Sweden are successful digital states but today we are facing similar challenges, so we can jointly develop our cybersecurity and digitalisation skills,” Reinsalu said.
- Energy policy – The nation’s universities, researchers and companies can also work more closely and collaborate to create smart grids, energy storage and hydrogen transmission solutions, along with offshore wind parks.
- Sustainable forestry – The report lastly highlighted the importance of the growth of the industry, the use of the forest as an energy source, and biodiversity. Noting that some of these goals are contradictory.
Along with the above four areas of proposed closer cooperation between Estonia and Sweden, it was also recommended to create closer connections between the peoples of the two nations. Therefore, there is a vision to establish a centre for Swedish-Estonian cooperation, a physical place where people can meet, take part in events, seminars, cultural events, etc.
In the same way, the report recommended more connections between local communities and people, such as between the Estonian islands and Gotland, school children, student exchanges and scholarships, joint research topics and PhD schools. Estonia and Sweden are also both very successful start-up countries and should have more of a presence at events in each other’s countries.
The goal is already to begin to see actual results from the report in the next 5 years with Swedish Foreign Minister Ann Linde noting, “writing the report and not least the way authors decided to do it with all the seminars, and meetings and interviews that has been something that has strengthened the bilateral relations already. Now we need to see how these proposals fit into the work of different stakeholders.”
You can watch the full presentation of the report on the Foreign Ministry’s official Youtube channel here.