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Opinion piece from Ministry for Foreign Affairs

"The NB8 visit to India focuses on cooperation and trust"


Opinion piece, The Hindu, 24 February 2024, by Lars Løkke Rasmussen, Minister for Foreign Affairs, Denmark, Margus Tsahkna, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Estonia, Elina Valtonen, Minister for Foreign Affairs, Finland, Bjarni Benediktsson, Minister for Foreign Affairs, Iceland, Krišjānis Kariņš, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Latvia, Gabrielius Landsbergis, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Lithuania, Espen Barth Eide, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Norway, Tobias Billström, Minister for Foreign Affairs, Sweden

Two years after Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine, cooperation with global partners has become more important than ever. In this year’s Raisina Dialogue in New Delhi, we, the eight Nordic-Baltic countries, are participating in it together as representatives of the Nordic-Baltic cooperation, the NB8. Our message is clear: in times of turmoil and conflict, the world needs more trust, dialogue and cooperation. Let us join forces to protect and defend peace and stability, to oppose aggression, to maintain a rules-based world order, and to strengthen a world economy based on free trade, sustainability and long-term partnerships. 

We represent the governments of eight countries of the north: Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Iceland, Latvia, Lithuania, Norway and Sweden. We are linked geographically, and we share deep historical, social, economic and cultural ties. Our advanced economies are outward-looking, innovation-driven, complementary and fully integrated into the world’s largest single market area – the European Common Market. Taken together, the size of the Nordic-Baltic economies would qualify not only for the G-20 but also the G-10. 

Our countries share a commitment to democracy and human rights. We are all champions of an international order based on multilateralism and international law. It is in this spirit that we pursue a very productive and deeply valued cooperation with India, which is a key country with a longstanding democratic tradition and with which we share many core values. We also have long-term and ever-closer ties with India and the Indo-Pacific region in common.

Diverse links with India

The Nordic-Baltic cooperation with India spans fields as diverse as innovation, green transition, maritime, health, intellectual property rights, new technologies, space cooperation and artificial intelligence, student exchanges, culture and tourism. Trade and investment figures between our region and India are steadily increasing. Jointly, India and the Nordic- Baltic countries are coming together in pursuit of common goals. 

In a time of geopolitical shifts, the security of the Nordic-Baltic region and the Indo-Pacific is interlinked. Today, it is more essential than ever to work together to uphold international law, and to build capacity to tackle both traditional and non-traditional security threats, be it in India’s neighbourhood or in our own. We recognise India’s increasingly important role in international politics. India has taken on important global responsibilities. Indian leadership, as illustrated not least through the successfully concluded G-20 Presidency, is increasingly important for global security and prosperity.

Our objective for coming to India is clear: in a more interconnected world, challenges are shared and require us to work together. In recent years, we have all experienced global health, climate-related and geopolitical shocks that have caused significant strain to our peoples, the international system and indeed on our common planet. We see an urgent need to get back to a more positive agenda for global cooperation. This is an ambition that we share with India, and one where our enhanced cooperation can make a difference.

The impact of the war against Ukraine

Today, the global agenda for progress is seriously hampered by Russia’s illegal and full-scale war against Ukraine. Russia is trying to destroy and dominate a democratic neighbouring country and alter borders using illegal force. It is an attack on international law and on the fundamental principles of the territorial integrity and sovereignty of all states. Upholding these principles that are enshrined in the UN Charter, be it in Europe, the Indo-Pacific or elsewhere, and ensuring accountability for the crimes committed, is paramount. 

The war affects global food and energy security, supply chains, macro-financial stability, inflation and growth. Indeed, the Russian blockade of Ukrainian ports is especially pernicious, given substantial global humanitarian needs. For this reason, it is most welcome that Ukraine has pushed through the Russian blockade and resumed food exports that are so critical for the world at large – not least for the countries and people in need.

Peace formula

Two years on, it is clear that Russia has totally underestimated Ukraine as well as the support and determination of the international community. Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has presented an ambitious peace formula for a comprehensive, just and lasting peace, based on international law and the UN Charter. The peace formula, which has received broad international support, includes issues of global concern such as energy and food security, environmental consequences and justice. We fully support Ukraine’s diplomatic efforts for peace and welcome the increasing number of countries and international organisations taking part in the peace formula meetings – most recently in Davos, Switzerland in January, where there were 83 participants. 

Our visit represents the first joint high-level NB8 delegation outside Europe. We have chosen India as our first destination, for many good reasons. Building on our strong commitment to the multilateral system, we want to increase dialogue and cooperation on the issues that dominate India’s and other global partners’ agendas.

We are honoured to participate as a region in this year’s Raisina Dialogue and to be able to deepen our partnership and cooperation with India. Our message to the world continues to be partnership, trust and cooperation. A partnership for development and health; a partnership for green transition and digitalisation; and a partnership for peace and stability.

Lars Løkke Rasmussen, Minister for Foreign Affairs, Denmark 

Margus Tsahkna, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Estonia

Elina Valtonen, Minister for Foreign Affairs, Finland

Bjarni Benediktsson, Minister for Foreign Affairs, Iceland

Krišjānis Kariņš, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Latvia

Gabrielius Landsbergis, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Lithuania

Espen Barth Eide, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Norway

Tobias Billström, Minister for Foreign Affairs, Sweden