The United States seeks in Northern Europe a safe, secure, and supportive environment for advancing an agenda of interests that we share with the eight Nordic and Baltic nations of Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, Sweden, Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania. These states are important U.S. allies and friends, and together contribute to the vision of Europe “whole, free and at peace.”
The U.S. Government’s previous policy framework for the Baltic Sea area, the Northern Europe Initiative (NEI), launched in 1997, has achieved great success. The policy’s foremost goal, the integration of Estonia, Lithuania, and Latvia into the western European community of democracies, has been achieved, as symbolized by offers of North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and European Union (EU) membership for the three states. NEI was also successful at fostering a network of political and personal connections among countries of the Baltic Sea region and with the United States.
Dramatic changes in the world and positive evolution in Northern Europe led us to develop a new forum for cooperation with the region. This forum, the Enhanced Partnership in Northern Europe (E-PINE) is guided by three principles:
- Building on successful multilateral engagement. E-PINE builds upon our cooperative relationship success, expanding and deepening the multilateral ties and the network of cooperation that has developed over the past decade.
- Fulfilling the vision. Our efforts to help the region build civil society, strengthen democratic institutions, combat crime and corruption, and entrench rule of law will continue. Threats from terrorism and weapons of mass destruction have not diminished. Health concerns and environmental problems across the globe, need to be addressed in partnership. Economic advancement in the region, and U.S. trade, investment and economic ties, while significant, can still be improved. Further, we must continue the task of erasing the false dividing lines of the Cold War. Northwest Russia, including Kaliningrad, has not progressed as fast as the rest of the region.
- Exporting success. As a mature area with multiple layers of cooperation and success, this region can serve as a model for others. Together we can find ways to support democratization and civil society in “neighboring” areas.
The Enhanced Partnership in Northern Europe, E-PINE, guided by these principles, encompasses three major areas:
The North Atlantic Treaty Organization and with it the Enhanced Opportunities Partners (EOPs) program remain the pillar of European security. The United States will work with Alliance members and EOPs in Northern Europe to strengthen regional security. We will continue our strong security and defense cooperation bilaterally and through NATO/EOP. This agenda includes counterterrorism cooperation, control of the spread of weapons of mass destruction, border security, regional European challenges, and new threats. The United States and its Nordic and Baltic Allies and Partners can together cooperate with Membership Action Plan (MAP) nations and other NATO partner states, including those in the Caucasus and Central Asia, in order to increase stability and security throughout Europe and Eurasia. The Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) is a valuable forum for this extended cooperation, both in terms of the OSCE’s security dimension (including the Treaty on Conventional Forces in Europe) and in terms of the OSCE’s capabilities in institution building (particularly in the development of legal systems and law enforcement).
Within and across national borders, societies are threatened by problems that fall beyond the realm of traditional political-military security, but are just as important to the lives of individuals and to the overall health and well-being of nations. The focus in this area is on health issues, corruption, trafficking in persons, the environment, and strengthening civil society.
Healthy societies require healthy neighbors, on the borders of the Northern Europe region and further afield. Health and environment issues in Russia have a direct impact on the countries it borders, and vice versa. Consultations within this policy framework build on existing assistance programs to strengthen democratic institutions and civil society in the Nordic Baltic region, Russia, and countries to the south and in Central Asia. The Baltic countries have useful lessons to convey on how to make the transition to a more open society, while the Nordic nations have long histories of supporting democracy and human rights beyond their borders.
The economies of the region are strong, and the Baltic States in particular enjoy rapid growth rates. To increase American knowledge of these markets, encourage entrepreneurship, and establish personal links between the U.S. and the region, the U.S. Government seeks to establish partnering/mentoring programs involving Nordic Baltic and American business people. We also work with American firms and groups such as Chambers of Commerce to develop ways to foster entrepreneurship.