Vucāns: Baltic Sea region countries should step up cooperation in education


Linking education with the labour market is an essential prerequisite for regional economic development and prosperity of our people; therefore, this issue should stay high on the agenda of the Baltic Sea region countries. This was stressed on Monday, 29 August, at the annual Baltic Sea Parliamentary Conference (BSPC) by Jānis Vucāns, President of this parliamentary cooperation forum and President of the Baltic Assembly (BA). He also encouraged the Baltic Sea region countries to step up their cooperation even more.

High-quality education and its efficient coupling to the labour market are among the priorities addressed by Latvia during its presidency of the BSPC. Over the last year, Latvia has been focusing the BSPC’s attention on this issue and also highlighting the role of vocational education, reported Vucāns.

“It should be the goal of higher education to enhance the creativity and entrepreneurship of students to become entrepreneurs, create jobs, provide new products and services and thus expand the national as well as global labour market”, noted Jānis Vucāns, as he welcomed representatives of the region’s countries to Riga at the 25th anniversary of the parliamentary cooperation of the Baltic Sea region. 

The BSPC President stressed the challenges that the Baltic States face due to the aggravated European refugee crisis. Looking back at the year of Latvia’s presidency, Vucāns singled out experience sharing among the BSPC countries through learning from other parliaments that have been dealing with this problem and considering cooperation options.

Jānis Vucāns stressed that terrorism has been recently posing a growing global threat and urged the audience to tackle it jointly. We must “condemn terrorism in all its forms as a common threat for our citizens and our shared values”, said President Vucāns, emphasising the need to jointly strengthen our security and defend the fundamental values that make us strong, namely, freedom, democracy, and human rights.

Looking back at Latvia’s presidency, Jānis Vucāns also commended the Working Group on Sustainable Tourism launched in autumn last year. He highlighted the political recommendations, which will help promote sustainable tourism in the region. The Working Group on Sustainable Tourism examines matters pertaining to culture, economy, labour market, and maritime and coastal tourism, while focusing particularly on environmental issues.

President Vucāns also informed the conference about a request from the Belarusian National Assembly to be granted observer status at the BSPC. Opinions among the BSPC members have differed so far. That is mostly due to the discrepancies in the available information on the current situation in Belarus and differing perceptions of the political environment in this country.

In order to take the final decision, last spring a BSPC delegation travelled to Minsk, capital of Belarus, and met with not only members of parliament both from the government side and the opposition, but also extra-parliamentary opposition, as well as scholars who study Belarusian politics in depth. The BSPC Standing Committee is going to take a decision after the Belarusian general election, but not later than in 2017.

From 28 to 30 August, Riga is hosting the 25th Baltic Sea Parliamentary Conference. This year, it focuses on high-quality education and labour as essential prerequisites for future economic growth of the Baltic Sea region countries. The conference is the last BSPC event under the Latvian presidency, as this responsibility will now be transferred to the Hamburg parliament, Germany.

The Baltic Sea Parliamentary Conference was established in 1991 as a forum for political dialogue between parliamentarians from the countries of the Baltic Sea region: Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Germany, Iceland, Latvia, Lithuania, Norway, Poland, Russia, and Sweden. The BSPC gathers parliamentarians from 11 national parliaments, 11 regional parliaments, and 5 parliamentary organisations around the Baltic Sea. The Saeima, represented by its Baltic Assembly delegation, has been a participant since the establishment of the BSPC.

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