Den 19 december uppmärksammande riksdagen att det i år har gått hundra år sedan de baltiska staterna – Estland, Lettland och Litauen – utropade sin självständighet. Riksdagens talman Andreas Norlén inledde seminariet.
Riksdagens delegation till Nordiska rådet stod värd för seminariet, som handlade om ländernas historia, nutida och framtida samarbete mellan Sverige och de baltiska länderna, samt våra gemensamma utmaningar och möjligheter.
Talman Andreas Norlén inledde seminariet med ett välkomstanförande. Dick Harrison, professor i historia vid Lunds universitet, gav därefter en historisk återblick över ländernas historia. Parlamentariker från Estland, Lettland, Litauen och Sverige detog i ett panelsamtal. Slutord gavs av Jessica Polfjärd (M), ordförande för den svenska delegationen till Nordiska rådet.
Det talade ordet gäller.
"Your excellencies, honourable parliamentarians, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen,
It gives me great pleasure to welcome you all to the Riksdag, the Swedish Parliament, and to the former First Chamber. I would like to extend a special welcome to our colleagues – the members of parliament from Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania, and to our eminent speakers and panellists.
This seminar was initiated by the Swedish delegation to the Nordic Council. The purpose of this event is to celebrate the centenaries of the Baltic states.
In addition, we want to highlight the excellent cooperation between the Nordic and the Baltic states on the one hand, and the bilateral cooperation between Sweden and Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania on the other.
One hundred years ago, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania declared their independence following the fall of the Russian Empire. Commemorating this gives us an excellent reason to discuss their history, as well as our cooperation. We are different countries with different histories, but at the same time, we are neighbours and we face many of the same challenges and opportunities.
The Baltic countries have lived through both war and occupation. Their course of history changed dramatically from the adoption of independence and democracy to occupation, and back to independence once more.
Sweden has been a staunch supporter and a friend of the Baltic countries for many years. One recent example is the Jubilee funds, established through a gift from the Swedish Government with the aim of promoting contacts between people in Sweden and your countries in order to create and strengthen dynamic and durable relations within society, economics and culture.
A more historical example, that I would like to mention, is especially significant for me as the Speaker of our parliament. In May 1990, my predecessor invited his fellow Speakers, with delegations, from the newly elected parliaments in the Baltic countries to visit the Riksdag, something I believe was seen as an important signal at that time.
However, the situation today is completely different, and our relations have developed further since then. Our cooperation within the Nordic-Baltic framework regarding both parliamentarians and Speakers, cooperation within the EU and cooperation between parliamentarians in committees in our respective parliaments and within inter-parlimentary organisations are all, I believe, excellent and impressive both in depth and scope.
This cooperation is of mutual benefit. We are not only neighbours, but we are also friends and partners. The purpose of this seminar is to take a closer look at both common challenges and common opportunities.
I think these are topics that deserve a thorough examination by experienced parliamentarians. Therefore, it will be very interesting listen to our panellists and the Chair of the Swedish delegation to the Nordic Council, Jessica Polfjärd.
Your excellencies, friends, last but not least – let me on behalf of the Swedish Parliament congratulate you on your centenaries marking 100 years since your first declaration of independence. With these words, I would like to welcome Dick Harrison, Professor at Lund University, to the rostrum. Professor Harrison will give us a retrospect as a point of departure for further discussions of the challenges the future might bring.