As the 2020 coordinator of the format, Estonia is organising the annual meeting of NB8 ministers this year, and the agenda includes regional and global foreign and security policy, European topics and connectivity (the climate, energy, digital affairs).
Glad to welcome my #NB8 colleagues in Tallinn! Celebrating the 3️⃣0️⃣th anniversary of Nordic-Baltic cooperation. Day full of important discussions ahead. pic.twitter.com/0VEq18Nu5v
— Urmas Reinsalu (@UrmasReinsalu) September 9, 2020
The meeting will also celebrate the 30th anniversary of the NB8 format.
Latvian Foreign Minister Edgars Rinkēvičs confirmed that Belarus will be high on the agenda.
In Tallinn for Nordic Baltic Foreign Ministers meeting, we will discuss #Belarus, Eastern partnership, cybersecurity, coordinating efforts to fight #covid19, regional security and connectivity issues ?? ?? ?? ?? ?? ?? ?? ?? pic.twitter.com/3VEkJ1jYRh
— Edgars Rinkēvičs (@edgarsrinkevics) September 9, 2020
Following the meeting the Ministry of Foreign Affairs released a statement that did not quote Rinkēvičs directly at any point but said:
"All instruments at our disposal must be used to stop violence against peaceful protesters and facilitate a dialogue between Belarusian authorities and the opposition and society, underlined the Latvian Minister of Foreign Affairs, Edgars Rinkēvičs, during the annual meeting of the Baltic and Nordic (NB8) Foreign Ministers on 8-9 September 2020 in Tallinn, Estonia.
"Foreign Minister Rinkēvičs called on the EU to conclude the soonest possible agreement on restrictive measures against Belarusian officials who are responsible for the 9 August election fraud and a crackdown on peaceful protests using coercion and disproportionate force against demonstrators.
"As the discussion on Belarus continued, Edgars Rinkēvičs noted that comprehensive support should also be rapidly provided to the Belarusian civil society. Minister Rinkēvičs informed the participants that Latvia has already allocated 200 000 euro towards legal, practical, psychological and medical assistance to civil society and in support of independent media in Belarus. Russia’s involvement in the domestic policy processes in Belarus should continue to be followed."
The Ministers also discussed the state of affairs in Ukraine, the United Kingdom and the Eastern neighbourhood countries, as well as the EU internal market and the rule of law.
A Joint Statement from the ministers was also issued during the meeting of NB8 Foreign Ministers. The statement is accessible here and includes strong condemnation of the poisoning of Alexey Navalny.
"The Foreign Ministers of the Nordic-Baltic 8... condemn in the strongest possible terms the usage of a chemical nerve agent of the Novichok group to poison the Russian opposition leader Alexey Navalny. Ministers call upon Russia and the international community to initiate an impartial and international investigation that would include the experts of the OPCW. Those responsible for the attack must be brought to justice," the statement said.
"NB8 Foreign Ministers also call for a strong and joint international response to the poisoning. Two years ago a chemical nerve agent of the Novichok group was used to commit a similar crime in the United Kingdom. Such attacks constitute an unacceptable threat to human lives as well as grave violations of basic human rights and international law. It is the responsibility of the international community to implement measures that would prevent similar crimes from happening in the future. We wish Mr Navalny a full and speedy recovery," it added.
The NB8 format includes Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Iceland, Latvia, Lithuania, Norway, and Sweden.