No. 21




Baltic Sea Cooperation as New trend of Foreign Policy of Estonia

16 June 2010


RiTo No. 21, 2010

For some time already, the foreign policy of Estonia has been looking for a new goal to strive towards and to engage in. Among other things, a proposal has been made to cooperate more with the Nordic and Baltic countries or all Baltic Sea states because cooperation should be simple and successful in that region already thanks to the similar history and good relations.

Sceptics find, on the contrary, that cooperation has not been particularly successful so far and nor is it likely to be so in the future. The article compares different cooperation opportunities from the theoretical aspect and in every organisation separately.

According to regionalism, a will and preconditions are needed for cooperation to be successful. The Baltic Sea states should have the preconditions because their historical background is relatively similar (closely interconnected) and there are more similarities than differences in the culture. However, the success of cooperation depends largely on political will. Does Estonia have that, though?
In the economic and environment sphere, theoretical preconditions such as common interest, potential profit and functioning cooperation organisations are already there. In both cases, cooperation and contribution by all parties is necessary for cooperation. In these spheres, the situation is better than in the case of security where Estonia is feeling the greatest need for cooperation but opportunities therefor are limited because the potential profit is not clear for everybody. Large countries have their own priorities. The same can be said about the sphere of culture where states gain no direct profit from cooperation although preconditions are there. At some level, the Baltic Sea identity is being forged but there is still a long way to go to actual success.

The Baltic Sea region cooperation is theoretically a nice idea and it might even work in an ideal world but as of yet there are no sufficiently regulated opportunities, that is, influential organisations. The states are not showing any initiative either, particularly big states who have different priorities. No remarkable profit is seen from joint activity except for the cooperation in the field of the environment which is functioning to some extent. In security issues, interests are too different by regions and the sphere of culture remains far from the main activity of the states. Thus, in conclusion, the cooperation of the Baltic Sea states might continue but it cannot be deemed a priority as yet.

Full article in Estonian