7. November 2006

Bremen welcomes young Europeans of Baltic Sea Region

More than 100 delegates of "Model European Parliament" (MEP) were welcomed in the big hall of Bremen Town Hall on Monday 6th of November. Welcome adresses were given by Willi Lemke, Senator for education and science, and by Helga Trüpel, member of European Parliament.

The MEP Baltic Sea Region Programme is a leadership programme for teenagers in Sweden, Finland, Denmark, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Russia, and Northern Germany. In addition to these delegates, guests from Austria, Italy, the Netherlands and Spain are participating in Bremen. The goal of the MEP Baltic Sea Region programme is to develop interest and skills in addressing high level international issues among high-school students in the eight countries around the Baltic Sea and other guest nations. The simulation of the European Parliament is used as a model for international sessions (General Assembly) in which young adults from the participating countries take part. The programme might serve as practice for future leaders and politicians.

During this week the young delegates will discuss European matters in five committees:

1) Foreign Affairs (main topic: conflicts in the Near East - Israel, Palestine)

2) Economic and Monetary Affairs (main topic: secure sustainable energy supply)

3) Environment, Public health and Food safety (main topic: prevention of infetious diseases)

4) Constitutional Affairs (main topic: gap between EU-institutions and Citizens)

5) Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs (main topic: promote Integration of Migrants and fight Xenophobia)

Part of the programme will be also a meeting with Bremen NGOs, who deal with intercultural exchange and coopertion with the respective countries.

The MEP Baltic Sea Region in Bremen will end at Friday, when all delegates will meet for a final plenary. The final part will be opened by Jens Böhrnsen, Mayor of Bremen.

Homepage of MEP Baltic Sea Region Bremen
Short description ot MEP Bremen (German)
Homepage MEP Germany
MEP Baltic (Swedish Homepage)

Homepage MEP Netherlands

Wikipeda Page on European Communities Projects

Wikipeda on MEP
A Report from Denmark about MEP in Helsinki 2003 (Danish)
Homepage MEP Italy (Italian)

Homepage MEP Spain (Spanish)

A Report on the MEP-project from Irland
A diary of an Austrian MEP-Delegate about participation in MEP Viln
ius in April 2006 (German language - newspaper "Der Standard")
A Latvian report about MEP in Vilnius April 2006 (Latvian language)

Information about MEP in Estonian Language

Press release of Valdas Adamkus, president of Lithuania, on MEP Vilnius in April 2006
On Thorildplans Gymnasiums Delegates (Sweden) in MEP Bremen

20. Juli 2006

Nouvelle Europe - the way to the Baltic Sea Region

How much do people in France know about the Baltic Sea Region? How many french people know details about the 10 new members of European Union? "It is really not in fashion", explains Philippe Perchoc, president of french NGO "Nouvelle Europe". But his organisation wants to build bridges between the cultures. The project "Baltic Trip" wants to collect more information for french speaking public: the current role of agriculture, the flow of workers between "new" and "old" EU-members, the relation to Russia, the environmental protection - that are only some of the topics, which the project will cover (see document "dossier du voyage" - french) Phillipe Perchoc, Ryad Fagoul and Sindbad Iksel - three french travellers, two of them living in Colombes near Paris, one in Birmingham in England, will try to find out more about the current situation in eight different Baltic Sea States. From July 15 to September 1 st 2006 they will be on travel through Germany, Poland, Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, Finland, Sweden and Denmark.

On July 17th the three "Baltic Travellers" spent one day in the Hanseatic City of Bremen. "Is the Hanseatic Tradition still alive? How succesful were the measures to protect the environment of the Baltic Sea? What vision Germans have on the future development of the European Union and the Baltic Sea Region?" These and other questions the three travellers asked to members of
INFOBALT, the Bremen located NGO working with Baltic Sea Cooperation. The "Baltic trip" of Philippe, Ryad and Sindbad is also a media project. A cooperation with German-French TV-Station ARTE helped to produce a several short video-clips, a documentary and lots of photos. A Bloggersite accompanies the travel and gives space for spontanous reports and comments.

The timetable of the trip: Warshaw around July 22th, Vilnius / Kaunas around July 27th, Riga around August 3rd, Tallinn around August 11th, Helsinki around August 15th, Stockholm around August 20th, Copenhagen around August 25th. Quite a long trip - but at the end a lot of material will be collected, and it will be interesting to observe whether the three friends have changed a bit the attitude of French people towards the Baltic Sea Region.

"We have members of our organisation 'Nouvelle Europe' also in some of the countries we now visit," explains Philippe, "and they of course were very eager to help us in preparation of our trip." Possibly there will be many new friends afterwards ... For all those people in the Baltic States, who would like to contact the three French travellers during their trip, and possibly arrange additional meetings, they offer a contact via Email: philippe.perchoc@gmail.com

19. Juni 2006


The government of Russia and St.-Petersburg authorities have launched two unprecedentedly ambitious and highly dangerous projects on the shore of the Baltic sea.

The project of the Seaport Terminal in the western part of the city includes inwashing of 450 hectares for the port itself and apartment blocks and buisiness buildings as well. According to the plan, three berths for cruise vessels more than 300 m in length will be built already by 2008. Experts believe that the inwashing of huge territory will harm the ecosystem of the region. As a result of the construction works the water will be roiled with the polluted subsoil from the seabed, which can destroy the habitat of the sea species. The subsoil will also wash towards the mouth of the Neva river and alter it's streamway. This will reduce the flow of fresh water into the Finnish Gulf and lead to further changes in ecosystem.

The second related project is the Western Speed Diameter - an 8-lane tall highway which will cross the Finnish Gulf area from south to the north to connect the sea port with Baltic and Scandinavian countries.

In the northern part of the city the highway will go along the border
of the Yuntolovskiy nature reserve and cross the forest witch serves as it's buffer zone. The wetlands of the Yuntolovskij reserve provide a resting site for migratory birds flying from Arctic region to Western Europe and Scandinavia. 13 of the bird species are listed in the Red Data Book of the Baltic Region.

According to independent experts, noise and pollution from the highway will destroy the habitat of migratory birds and threaten biodiversity of the Baltic region. This violates international conventions, as:
- Rio de Janeiro convention of biological diversity (articles 8c, 8e);
- Helsinki convention on the Protection of the Marine Environment of the Baltic Sea Area (article 15).
Also as the highway is going to pass through lowlands it would be necessary to drain the territory before construction. The draining will change the hydrosystem of the Lahta region which makes up an important part of the Finnish Gulf. The situation can become even worse as the city governer has recently announced about a plan to build Nissan plant close to the Yuntolovskij reserve. According to the statement, the streamway of the Chernaya river which flows to the Lahta bay will be changed in order to build the industrial area.

ACCESS TO INFORMATION More than 27 000 residents have signed against the sea terminal and Western High Speed Diameter but still the city government does not respond to the protests.

The city authorities do not provide people with information about the projects. So far numerous requests for environmental assessment documents remain unanswered. The public hearings of the projects were held formally and the residents were not properly informed about them.

Also, in violation of the Helsinki convention (article 7.1) and Espoo
convention on environmental impact assessment in transboundary context, the Baltic countries were not notified about the proposed activity.

As far as we were not able to receive the information on environmental impact of the projects we are urged to address you for help.
Please send requests for environmental information in accordance with international conventions (Espoo convention, Article 3.7). We will also be grateful if you take part in consultations on these projects (Espoo convention, article 5) and in public environmental expertise.

Note: it is important to take action as soon as possible as the implementation of the projects has already started.

THE STATE OF THE PROJECTS The planning decision on the Passenger Seaport Terminal and Western High Speed Diameter was included into the General plan of the city development accepted in 2005. The project of the Passenger Seaport Terminal was approved on March 30 by Glavgosekspertiza (russian regulatory authority).

The project of Western High Speed Diameter is divided into three parts which undergo all the procedures separately. The southern part of the highway has passed the environmental impact expertise and the construction works are already started. The central part has passed the expertise though it is supposed to be built last. The project of the northern part is not yet ready.

http://www.mfspb.ru/en/ - learn more about the Seaport Passenger Terminal (in English) http://www.skyscrapercity.com/showthread.php?t=296908 - the Seaport Passenger Terminal and Western High Speed Diameter on the map of St.-Petersburg (in English) http://www.ecosafe.pu.ru/RB/Yuntolov/yuonEC.htmlYuntolovskiy reserve: Site identification under EC_Nature 2000-CorineInfBiotopes (in English) Public organization "Save Yuntolovo" http://sos-yuntolovo.spb.ru

Contact us:
Public organization "Save Yuntolovo" http://sos-yuntolovo.spb.ru
Tatyana Skrodenis arttri@detisite.ru
Vera Ponomareva
+7 812 343 82 16

10. Juni 2006

Concern about new NGO-legislation in the CBSS countries

Statement from Baltic Sea NGO Forum to the 6th Baltic Sea States Summit in Reykjavik 8th June 2006

Concern about new NGO-legislation in the CBSS countries. We, the members of the Consultative Committee for the Baltic Sea NGO Forum, wish to express our deep concern about the new legislation for the NGO-sector, both in the EU-member states and in Russia, legislation brought forward under the cover of "fight against terrorism", after the event of September 11th 2001.
Free and independent NGOs are a very important part of the civic society, and have a very decisive role in a democratic society, both as “watchdogs” and initiators of the political process. If they are hampered in their work by government control in form of compulsory registration, compulsory delivery of membership lists and financial control, it will have a very detrimental effect on our democratic society and political development.
Moreover, this control legislation will, in our opinion, not be an effective instrument in the fight against terrorism. On the other hand, a dynamic civic society, and independent NGOs can be an important contributor in our common fights against terrorism.
In Russia the new NGO-legislation will hamper the cooperation of the civic society in the political process, and will prevent the very important international cooperation between NGOs. In this legislation, Russia indicates that it has been inspired by the EU-proposals, and this may hamper the EU-countries from complaining to Russia over this restriction in democracy.
We, the members of the Consultative Committee for the Baltic Sea NGO Forum, therefore request the 6th Baltic Sea States Summit to: - keep a close watch over the NGO-legislation in the membership countries in order to respect the freedom of associations, - work for a close cooperation between CBSS and the NGOs in the CBSS member states, - include a clear statement in the EU-Northern Dimension of the importance of the cooperation between government and civic society, - work towards a simplification of the visa-rules in connection with NGO-arrangements.

The Baltic Sea NGO FORUM is a NGO-network with partners in all CBSS-countries. More information is available at
www.cbss-ngo.de - German platform of the Baltic Sea NGO Network
http://www.cbss-ngo-pl.org - NGO FORUM 2005 in Gdynia / Poland
BALTIC SEA NGO FORUM 2006 in Stockholm / Sweden

16. April 2006

German NGOs prepare for BALTIC SEA NGO FORUM 2006 in Sweden

The German NGO Initiative Baltic Sea Cooperation, a loose coalition of German NGOs interested in the Baltic Sea Region, held a meeting on Saturday 8th of April in the Town Hall of Rostock.
The Initiative works as a link to the Baltic Sea NGO Network, which has organised the annual BALTIC SEA NGO FORUM since 2001. The Baltic Sea NGO Network since then was developed parallel to activities of the Council of Baltic Sea States (CBSS), which was founded in 1992.

Roland Methling, Mayor of Rostock Hanseatic Town, welcomed the NGOs in the Rostock Town Hall. Telling about some recent developments in Rostock and at the German Baltic Sea Coast, he expressed his readiness for closer cooperation also in frame of the NGO FORUM. As Rostock Town is f. ex. active in the Union of Baltic Cities (UBC), this could be also a link to the NGO-community.
Albert Caspari, the German Focal Point of the Baltic Sea NGO Network (co-ordinator of activities on German side), reported about two preparation meetings for BALTIC SEA NGO FORUM 2006 in Sweden (one held in January 2006 in Copenhagen, one in March/April 2006 in Stockholm).
The NGOs welcomed the proposals for four workshop-topics. Albert Caspari explained, that the Swedish organisers of the upcoming NGO FORUM will try to organise additional opportunities for meetings also for those initiatives, whose key aspects of activity probably will not be served by one of the main workshops.
The detailed programme for the BALTIC SEA NGO FORUM 2006 is still to be prepared by the Consultative Council (the Focal Points of every CBSS state - Norway, Finland, Sweden, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Denmark, Germany). The NGO FORUM 2006 is going to take place in Stockholm at 5.-7th of October 2006.

The NGOs representatives at the Rostock meeting discussed some actual issues of the Baltic Sea Region, like HELCOM Baltic Sea Action Plan, problems of Atomic Power Use, sustainable use of energy, Oil Transport at Sea, and new NGO-laws in Russia and other Baltic Sea States. Several regional initiatives of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern presented their activities.

A lively discussion on opportunities of democratic participation in decision processes followed. Lutz Huettel and Dr. Burkhard Luber, two participants of the meeting, initiated the formulation of "NGO essentials" - a declaration of most essential rights, which all NGOs of the Baltic Sea Region should be granted in all CBSS-countries. The initiators hope that the text could function like a catalyst for a discussion among NGOs from different Baltic Sea States.

The participants of the NGO-meeting expressed their hope, that the work of the Baltic Sea NGO Networks German Focal Point would be possible to continue, even if no help in financing was available until now. The efforts for co-operation between German NGOs from different Northern German Federal States still has no partner on the Governmental bodies, as the German Federal States do not have a common concept for Baltic Sea Cooperation. The only partner for discussion and exchange of viewpoints until now is an advisor on Baltic Sea Cooperation at the German Federal Foreign Office in Berlin.

One project between NGOs in Germany and Poland was presented at a good example of positive results of the BALTIC SEA NGO FORUM in Gdynia / Poland in 2005.
Among the participants of the NGO FORUM 2005 were representatives of Fundacja Slonecznik Pomorskie (Gdansk) and Kulturzentrum Lagerhaus (Bremen). As a result of the NGO FORUM they agreed in starting a project, which aimed in bringing NGOs of both towns together, improving the contacts and starting new projects on various fields of activity.
The Bremen-Gdansk-project could be taken as a "good example" for NGO-cooperation (in contact to GOs), as this project was a direct result of BALTIC SEA NGO FORUM 2005.
More information is available (english!) at http://www.hb-gd-ngo-act.de/meeting.html)

Draft paper on "NGO ESSENTIALS" (to be discussed):
Essentials for Regulating the Activities of Non-Governmental Organizations with special reference to state authorities
  1. All NGOs´ acting falls under the specifications of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, where especially articles 13 (freedom of movement and residence), 17 (right of property ownership), 19 (freedom of opinion and expression), 20 (right of association), 29+30 (exercising rights and freedoms) are relevant.
  2. NGO acting must be in conformity with international law regulations which basicly are used by the United Nations and national law regulations of the country in which the NGOs are acting, if it is not in conflict with international principles of human rights.
  3. The acting of NGOs should not be subjective to more restrictive regulations than those of the penal and civil laws of the country in which the NGO is acting.
  4. The legal regulations for starting and acting of NGOs should not be repressive, i.e. those regulations should kept on a minimum of procedures.
  5. Elements of a minimum transparency of NGOs should be: Presenting statutes, informing about changes in the NGO´s responsible board, transparency of finances.
  6. Conflicts between and NGOs and state authorities have to be submitted to and decided by independent courts with the possibility to appeal against court decisions on the base of the constitution and of the Declaration of Human Rights.
  7. NGOs, especially those of minorities, should be able to spread their information, news, and commitments by independent media in every language they like without discrimination by governmental authorities.

13. Januar 2006

Environmentalists discuss Gas-Pipeline

The Coalition Clean Baltic (CCB), a Baltic Sea wide network of environmental organisations, has raised its concern about the German-Russian Megaproject of a gas-pipeline crossing the Baltic Sea. "We all need open information sources, access to EIA materials, to be sure that all environmental impacts were considered thoroughly and sufficiently," says Olga Senova, CCB-member and eco-acticvist from Russia.
But many members of the network are not ready to express a final opinion, as many clear details of the planned project are currently lacking. "We should collect the information about possible environmental threats and what it could cost to the Baltic Sea," hopes Taavi Nuum from Estonian Green Movement. What he points to seems to be partly just a hope - as information about the plans of the Russian-German consortium are not available yet. "So far, we do not have sufficient and reliable information about expected environmental impacts, and cannot make valid conclusions," says Sergey Anatskiy (Baltic Federation of Fishermen) from Russia.

Business, just big politics, ignorance, or what?
But there are also other voices to be found. Some call the whole projekt "a business issue", other "very much a political issue". Voices are mixed, and concerns regarding a possible threat to the environment come together with disappointment, that Russia and Germany may try to keep the discussion as just an internal issue. "We expect that all the HELCOM member countries, especially those which also signed the Espoo Convention, like Germany, really start the cross-border EIA." Such statement voices Valdur Lahtvee, chairman of the Coalition Clean Baltic. (Source for all CCB-statements: CCB-Newsletter)

German eco's in silence
But where are the statements of the German environmentalists? Not much has been heard or seen up to now. Could it be the effect of the new "big coalition" of conservatives and socialdemocrates in Berlin, that irritate German ecologists? Quite many of the more experienced eco-functioneers had become used to have a "Green" partner also in the German government. Some environmentalists where offered well paid jobs in ministries and other institutions during the rule of the red-green's. Suddently the political szene has turned upside down. The former coalition-partner of the Greens suddently choose a new "best friend", who does not hide a strong willingness to reintroduce atomic power stations. And Joschka Fishers "best friend", the "dear Gerd", has made his personal deal with another "best friend" in Moskow, for assuring his personal earnings. Fisher himself has disappeared from the political szene. New green leaders currently look quite like the old ones, but even older. It does not seem to be popular any more to fight for the environment very much.
What may be the background of all this political games? Will the environment be the main looser?

The pipeline from Russia to Germany will have 1200 km of its route on the bottom of the Baltic Sea. Some already have made up their minds: "Well, apart from some limited areas of old stuff from last war it will be only mudd on the ground of the Baltic Sea." Who cares?

Different interests
Other opponents step into the arena. The 24th session of the presidium of the Baltic Assembly, where law-makers of Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia and Poland came together in Estonian capital Tallinn, passed a resolution concerning the construction of the North European Gas Pipeline (NEGP) urging Russia and Germany to consider ecological and economic interests of the four states. (as for ex. Russian paper Kommersant reports).
The resolution adopted in Estonia contains an appeal to the parliaments of the countries situated in the area of the Baltic Sea and the Council of Ministers of Baltic states to pay a special attention and look into the North European gas main project for its compliance with treaties on the protection of the Baltic Sea and laws of the European Union. The four undersigning states speak up clearly: The North European Gas Pipeline disregards interests of Baltic states as well as those of Poland.

But isn't it then again just a "business issue"? Do those, who protest against the project, just want to have a "piece of the cake"?
One other expert tries to calm emotions down. Andris Piebalgs, a Latvian, holds the post as EU-commissioner for energy. "I really have no doubts ... that the companies involved will do everything necessary for protection of the environment," he was quoted by

But it seems interesting to follow what some
Russian press is expecting from the side of one of the smallest Baltic Sea States, Estonia. Three of the political fractions in Estonian parliament could initiatite a widening of Estonian sea borders to 12sm. If Finland would join the Estonian initiative - the gas-pipeline could be blocked. Once again, some question: Are governments of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania (all three strong opponents of the German-Russian pipeline) got a "green heart", or is it just for trying to get a share of the business?
May be the year 2006 will show it soon.

EIA = Environmental Impact Assessment

Baltic Assembly = was set up in 1991 as a deliberative body on the cooperation between parliaments of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania. It consists of 20 people from each of the countries.