Speech

Speech by Mr. Poul Nyrup Rasmussen, the Prime Minister at the Summit of the Baltic Development Forum, St. Petersburg 23 September 2001

Thank you. Governor Vladimir Yakolev, the representative of the Russian federation, Prime Ministers, Excellences. Ladies and Gentlemen.

It is a great pleasure to be here in St. Petersburg for the first time. We are standing at a doorstep of a historic event that will change the Baltic Sea Region and the whole of Europe fundamentally. I am thinking about the accession of the Central and Eastern European states to the European Union. And I am thinking of a new area of cooperation between the Russian federation and Europe.

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But Ladies and Gentlemen. Before I am starting on my main subject allow me to make a few remarks concerning the horrible terrorist attacks in the United States almost two weeks ago – on the 11th of September. Because I think that this event has brought on an evil basis even closer and obliged us to cooperate even more determined than before. May I just remind you very shortly that when the old bi-polar world changed 10 - 12 years ago, the world at the same time became a much safer place to live in. But also a much more dangerous place.

Safer because the threat of a total war and destruction finally could be replaced by co-operation, trust, trade and new possibilities for a better world.

And more dangerous because the new open vulnerable system has made it easier for fanatics and terrorists of all kind to travel around the globe and kill innocent people.

Ladies and Gentlemen. It is of enormous importance that all of the democratic countries gather their forces in the fight against this evil, which one day might strike in one of our countries. And I am confident, that all the representatives of the countries around the Baltic Sea gathered here today share this view.

I want in this connection to stress the importance of a comprehensive and genuine cooperation with Russia in this area with St. Petersburg and all its citizens of the Region.

May I say to you that the answer to the 11 th of September is not nationalism, is not religious wars and fights. The answer is not to close down relations contacts, understandings It is the opposite.

The answer to the 11 th of September is to strengthen our work, to intensify our decisions and to be even more determined.

Our fight for our common values, human rights and civil rights, respects that we go further and more determined.

As Prime Minister Paavo Lipponen said: We have a shared destiny. We have a shared vision and we have to be very, very determined to realize it.

The Danes have the presidency of the task force of combating crime this time. And we will do it determined in a very close co-operation with the Russian Federation, which at the same time have the Presidency of the Baltic Sea State’ co-operation.

May I also say as my sincere hope that for the moment we know there is a very close co-operation between the Russian Federation and the United States. And as well other States in Central Asia.

Ladies and Gentlemen, never before have we been so close together and never before do we need to stay so close together.

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And then to my theme: The enlargement process and the Baltic Sea Region.

Eight years ago, in June 1993, Heads of States and Government in Copenhagen met to prepare the ground for the enlargement process. It was evident that if we really wanted to overcome old dividing lines, we had to allow those countries that wanted to join the European Union.

Now the European Union in currently negotiating with ten Central an Eastern European countries on the precise and detailed conditions for their accessions to the European Union. And as many of you probably know the basis is this:

First. Countries that want to join the European Union should live up to basic principles such as democracy, rule of law, human rights and protection of minorities are negotiating accession to the EU.

Secondly. The need for a functioning market economy and the capacity to cope with the competitive strength of the European Union.

And thirdly and finally, the countries who had to live up to the obligations of membership, including transposition and implementation of the EU acquis communitaire.

And it has been nearly ten years of enormously development. May I say that since 1993 in June in Copenhagen when we formulated the criteria there has been an enormously development. And an enormously prospect of resource has been presented in the applicant countries.

Let me especially underline the great progress which has been achieved by the candidate countries in the Baltic Sea Region. That goes for Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Poland. They are all well on track and they have all the possibilities if we join our forces together to be member of the European Union within the time schedule we decide upon in Gothenburg.

There is no doubt that the European Union membership has facilitated the reform process in the candidate countries. Thus, we can say, that already at this stage, the European Union accession process has in itself contributed to strengthening the security, stability and welfare in Europe.

To introduce the reforms in candidate countries is a demanding task. Courageous political decisions need to be taken – and have been taken. Some times at some short-term economic and social costs. The populations in the Central and Eastern European countries have met these challenges with admirable courage and patience. It is perfectly understandable that these populations now want to see the light at the end of the tunnel. You know and I know that public support is a cornerstone in the enlargement process. Therefore we must provide the leadership and determination needed to maintain the public support for this historical opportunity, both in the candidate countries and in the member states.

Therefore the timing is of absolute importance. And therefore the task is that before the end of next year, at the end of next year, we should do all that we can to insure that we finalised negotiations with a number of countries including the Baltic countries.

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For the Baltic Sea Region the enlargement presents great opportunities. Wider European integration will not render regional co-operation superfluous. On the contrary, regional co-operation is the very building block on which a stronger and wider Europe rests. It is the regional networks that make the larger European framework.

The many ties between the countries in the Baltic Sea Region serve as a model for the rest of Europe. At all levels – be it in companies, universities, organisations, municipalities or countries – co-operation is flourishing and contributing to developing the relations between the countries in the region. Not least the Council of the Baltic Sea States is an important framework to develop further as a strong regional body for this area.

I listened carefully to what Mr. Gusarov said and was happy to be confirmed in your determination as far as engaging yourself as President of the Baltic Sea States co-operation.

It is good to hear and it is also a historical step we see now.

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Denmark is vigorously pursuing the vision of the Baltic Sea Region as one of the most dynamic and advanced regions of Europe. The growth rates obtained here in the past five years in all the Baltic Sea states are very, very encouraging. We have, Ladies and Gentlemen, a very strong basis to build on.

To realise this vision, the EU enlargement will have to go hand in hand with development of our relations with the Russian federation.

I want to underline that the enlargement will create opportunities for Russia and St. Petersburg. If you take all the facts into consideration, I believe it is fair to state that it could lead to new open market opportunities.

The Governor of St. Petersburg, Vladimir Yakovlev, talked yesterday about the environmental problems in our region. I would confirm to the Governor that one of the most important priorities during the Danish presidency next year will be the environmental dimension and Northern dimension. And I foresee an even stronger co-operation, which will develop in the coming month and years.

Many Russian projects will also face benefits of the new European Union enlargement. Of the simple fact, that many Russian products will face lower customs duties in Eastern Europe after enlargement since the European Union tariffs are often lower than the current national rates in the new member states.

The key words for competing on the European market are quality and marketing. Let the Russian producers also take steps to meet these challenges. As they are doing for the moment. Then the result will be a big step forward in our common relations - in our European Union Russian federation relations.

Denmark strongly supports that the European Union press ahead with the task of improving and deepening the Union’s relations with Russia in the economic field. I think it is worthwhile and really important today to underline, that the Russian membership of the world trade organization is an important objective. In the longer perspective, we see Russia as member of a common European economic space, which will include totally and free trade.

May I also, Ladies and Gentlemen, underline, that we are all aware that the enlargement will raise certain questions, most acutely for the Kaliningrad region. The European Union and Commission have described these questions. Now as Prime Minister Paavo Lipponen said, the Council of the European Union has asked the Commission to provide viable answers by the beginning of the Danish Presidency of the European Union. It will be our task to facilitate political agreement on these answers in the autumn of 2002 shortly before we finalise the enlargement negotiations.

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And once more let me underline to you that the whole job to be done is not a serial sum game where someone takes something from others. It is a class sum game. There will be no loosers in the enlargement process. There will be winners. It will be a win-win situation. Which will form a substantial part of our future together with a further development of the Northern dimension and a close co-operation between the Russian federation and the European Union.

From the beginning Denmark has been one of the strongest advocates of a European Union enlargement with the central and eastern European countries. Our support for the enlargement has been backed by bilateral assistance to the candidate countries. Over the last decade Denmark has been among the largest bilateral donors. A large part of this assistance has been focused on the candidate countries in the Baltic Sea Region.

Now given the strong Danish support for the enlargement we very much welcome the outcome of the European Council in Gothenburg in June. The Council confirmed the ambition to finalise negotiations with the best well prepared candidate countries by the end of 2002. We will be the Presidency at that time and we will be very prepared. Very determined and very goal-oriented.

It is our ambition to conclude negotiations with as many prepared candidate countries as possible during our presidency. And I see really realistic, good and well prepared possibilities. And we will do all our utmost that it will be realized that the three Baltic countries and Poland will be with us at that time.

May I just mention to you, that the most difficult chapter will be agriculture, as you all know. In June or July next year there will be a midway report from the Commission concerning the future of the CIP – the common agriculture policy. We hope that this midway review will give us opportunity to point out the next alliance of reform of the CIP.

If this will be the case, it will be a further basis for solving the outstanding questions on agriculture together with our candidate countries.

Now let me underline it will not be a precondition. But it will be a facilitating development in the last faze.

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Ladies and Gentlemen. As you hopefully see the next year will be decisive. In the first half of next year our Spanish friends will be President of the European Union. And in the second half year it will be Denmark. This year will be decisive. And I give you my confirmation that we will work heavily to realize what we have to do.

Much work remains to be done. It is clear, that the efforts of each individual country will be decisive. And it is said, that my country will continue to work for the strongest and fastest enlargement as possible. By concluding negotiations with the best-prepared candidate countries including my friends in the Baltic countries, the Danish presidency will feel that we can close a historical chapter in the newest development of our region. Starting from Copenhagen in June 1993 and finalising with conclusions in December 2002 will be the most promising ten years period of newest history.

I have seen and learned that if we join our forces, and seize the opportunity to make the world a safer place in the future, we can live up to a old phrase made the Russian poet Pushkin, when he quoted Peter the Great, the founder of this beautiful city, when he said, when he founded the city:

I quote after my memory: “Here I will open a window to Europe”.

Ladies and Gentlemen. Let us open that window to Europe all of us the Russian federation, the three Baltic countries and Poland. And let us make this region the most promising and flourishing region of the world.

Thank you very much.