TALLINN - Foreign ministers of the Nordic and the Baltic countries adopted a joint statement at the end of their two-day meeting in Tallinn on Wednesday, in which they condemn the poisoning of Russian opposition leader Alexey Navalny.
In their joint statement, the foreign ministers "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", spokespeople for the Estonian Foreign Ministry said.
The 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 NB8 foreign ministers also call for a strong and joint international response to the poisoning.
Furthermore, the NB8 foreign ministers express their solidarity with the people of Belarus and admire their peaceful resolve.
"The continued violence from the authorities against peaceful demonstrators, threats to use military force, targeting of journalists, revoking foreign media accreditation, blocking of independent media websites and internet shutdowns are alarming and must end. Ministers express concern about the criminal case opened against the Coordination Council, as well as the intimidation and detention of its members. The Coordination Council, which consists of representatives of different parts of the society, could be instrumental in paving the way for a genuine and inclusive national dialogue," the statement reads.
In addition, the ministers say that further strengthening of regional economic cooperation can help to address the impact caused by the spread of the COVID-19 virus.
"Current crisis has underlined the importance of digitalization as a tool to strengthen the resilience of affected countries and societies; regional digital solutions can help to address immediate challenges of the crisis and assist in medium and long-term recovery," the statement adds.
The meeting in Tallinn also marks the 30th anniversary of the NB8 format. The foreign ministers of the Nordic and the Baltic countries at their first meeting in Copenhagen at the end of 1990 decided to intensify cooperation among themselves.
"The cooperation format of the Nordic and the Baltic countries has been a circle of closest partners through the years, and this continues to be felt also at a time when there's much confusion in the world -- close communication is taken for granted," Estonian Foreign Minister Urmas Reinsalu said.
"There's a lot to be discussed also today -- the situation in Belarus, the case of poisoning of Alexey Navalny, transatlantic relations, matters of the European Union and the movement restrictions related to the coronavirus crisis. A common understanding with the Nordic and the Baltic countries -- especially on difficult topics -- is extremely important," the Estonian minister said.
Reinsalu described the cooperation format as very necessary for Estonia and the celebration of its anniversary as necessary.
"Thirty years ago there was a time in Europe which required powerful decisions and largely defined the relations between countries for the time to come," he said.
The foreign ministers' meeting hosted by Estonia in its capacity as the coordinator of the NB8 format this year explored regional and global foreign and security policy, European issues and topics of connectivity, such as connectivity in climate, energy and digital matters. The ministers also took part in a joint discussion on cyber risks co-organized by the Estonian company CybExer Technologies.