Letter from Uffe Ellemann-Jensen, Honorary Chairman of Baltic Development Forum
Co-operation between the countries in the Baltic Sea Region holds the key to our common destiny. We can establish a strong and affluent zone of growth – or we can repeat historic mistakes.
As Denmark’s Minister for Foreign Affairs from 1982 to 1993, I was a close witness to the fall of the Berlin Wall and the subsequent break-up of the bipolar world order. It was a very turbulent time, especially for us here in the Baltic Sea Region.
Looking back today, I would not have dared to hope for such a rapid and smooth development. The Region has become a visible and dynamic entity in the new Europe. This process has been further strengthened as more countries have joined the EU and NATO.
This website is devoted to Baltic Development Forum (BDF). As a member-based, non-profit organisation its purpose is to integrate the interests of leaders from business, government, academia and media in a common effort to promote growth, innovation and competitiveness in the Baltic Sea Region.
The core activity of Baltic Development Forum is our annual summits. Baltic Development Forum’s first annual Summit was held in 1999 in Copenhagen, Denmark. The second annual Summit was held in September 2000 in Malmö, Sweden. Our prime focus in the beginning was to secure enlargement of both NATO and the European Union and thus more political goals.
In September 2001, our Summit was held in St. Petersburg, Russia. Despite the tragic events on 11 September, Baltic Development Forum decided to proceed with our third annual summit. The Summit marked the first time that Heads of State and Governments met to discuss the future after the attacks on New York and Washington. With more than 500 participants, the Summit proved that the Baltic Sea co-operation was stronger than ever.
The forth annual Baltic Development Forum Summit was held in Copenhagen on in October 2002. Here participants embraced the idea of setting new and ambitious priorities for our region. However, participants also acknowledged that the enlargement of the European Union would not be an easy task, so our first priority was to set the record straight on the enlargement and give it the top priority that it deserved.
In 2003, we moved to Latvia’s beautiful capital, Riga. Throughout the Summit many participants suggested that a State of the Region report should to be published each year at the annual Baltic Development Forum summits. Thus, in 2004 Baltic Development Forum launched the first State of the Region Report in cooperation with Stockholm School of Economics and the Harvard Business School during the Hamburg Summit in September 2004.
The Baltic Sea Initiative 2010 was the over-all outcome of the sixth annual Baltic Development Forum Summit in Hamburg. With the initiative Baltic Development Forum and our partners intend to formulate a strategy and an action agenda for strengthening the Baltic Sea region’s competitiveness and innovative potential. The final outcome of the Baltic Sea Initiative 2010 was presented together with the State of the Region report 2005 at the seventh annual Summit in Stockholm in October 2005.
As an official part of the Finnish EU-presidency, Baltic Development Forum – in cooperation with the Finnish Government and the City of Helsinki – held its 2006 Summit in Helsinki 29-31 October. The Summit was extremely well attended with more than 500 high-level participants and 90 speakers. You will find more details about the Summit on this website.
In 2007 the annual Summit took place in Tallinn and was co-hosted by the Estonian government and the City of Tallinn. The main theme will focus on business upgrading on Top of Europe with emphasis on entrepreneurship and ICT and how to attract even more talents, tourists and investments to our Region.
The 10th anniversary of BDF was celebrated at a Summit held in Copenhagen and Malmö in late 2008 where we took the opportunity to look back at the past decade’s great achievements in the Baltic Sea Region, as well as outlining the major challenges ahead of us. The three main areas of focus was energy and sustainability in the Region; the EU Strategy on the Baltic Sea Region; as well as further exploring how to attract talents to the Region.
In 2009 the BDF summit was organized in Stockholm under the name “Boosting the Top of Europe”. The summit focused on how to strengthen the Baltic Sea Region so that it can compete globally. In that connection, such topics as the current financial economic situation, the ongoing climate change and the energy debate as well as clean water resources were discussed.
In 2010, the BDF summit was held in Vilnius, Lithuania, 1-2 June.