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The Taoiseach meeting Finnish prime minister Sanna Marin in April. twitter
Northern Exposure

Visits to Nordic countries part of a strategic plan to grow Ireland's links with Scandinavia

Visits by the Taoiseach and others are all part of a plan to align Ireland with the countries.

AS WAR RAGES in Ukraine the sight of senior Irish politicians travelling to Nordic countries has become a regular feature of news reports. 

Taoiseach Micheál Martin and Foreign Affairs and Defence Minister Simon Coveney have made trips to the Scandinavian region in recent weeks. 

Coveney, last Tuesday, also visited the Turkish/Syrian border with his Norwegian counterpart Anniken Huitfeldt on Wednesday. 

The Irish delegation on the United Nations Security Council has responsibility, along with Norway, for the Syrian humanitarian file.

Martin and Coveney have also visited Finland – a country with a similar population as Ireland at 5.5m people. The Taoiseach met with Sanna Marrin, the Finnish Prime Minister.

There have also been visits to Estonia – a country on the cusp of the Baltic and Scandinavian regions.

While on the face of it the visits and connections could be just trade-based, the recent publication of the EU’s Strategic Compass has meant a huge amount of interactions between diplomats from members states.

The initiative reinforces the EU’s ability to undertake crisis management missions especially against cyber and hybrid threats.

The connection with Scandinavian countries is not new – it is part of a broader Department of Foreign Affairs diplomatic plan, launched in June 2021, to align Ireland with Nordic countries.

The plan, entitled Global Ireland – a strategy for the Nordic Region, is designed to focus on diplomatic relationships with Denmark, Finland, Sweden, Iceland and Norway. 

The strategy document outlines that the Government would “advance and safeguard shared interests and values” across the world, including in the UN and via European Partnerships.  

There are five strategic objectives which focus on trade, tourism and culture – including a focus on the “Global Irish community” living in each country.

The document sets out that the relationship to the Nordic region is to bolster “international peace and security and the rules-based international order”.

“Our activism within the United Nations (UN) and membership of the European Union (EU) and the European Economic Area (EEA) will drive co-operation, as will bilateral political, economic, cultural and people-to-people exchanges and partnerships. 

“Ireland will deepen research and scientific collaboration with the region and promote innovation and entrepreneurship to deliver on our objectives,” the document states. 

The document outlines the key factors as to why it makes sense that the Nordic region is suited to a relationship with Ireland. 

It outlines that the population of the area is 27 million and that is is a “prosperous region with GDP per capita far exceeding the EU average”. 

coveney syria Simon Coveney and his Swedish Anniken Huitfeldt this month on the Turkish/Syrian border. Twitter Twitter

The Department sees the countries in the area as major parties for dealing with crises such as climate change.

“We have both the responsibility and opportunity to work with our Nordic in promoting an economic model that is sustainable and consistent with an imperative to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. 

“Nordic countries are natural partners for Ireland in promoting a ‘green reset’ both within the EU and internationally,” the document states. 

Simon Coveney has indicated that the link up would help trade between small European countries.  

“The countries of the Nordic Region and Ireland are close neighbours and our people to people links go back many centuries. In recent years a smaller European countries highly dependent on international trade.

“We have worked closely together to underpin the rules based order on multilateral cooperation,” he said. 

Hannah Fraser of Enterprise Ireland has said that the trade possibilities in the broader Scandinavian region were significant.

“The Nordic region is home to more than 27 million people and combined for the 11th largest economy in the world, Ireland and the Nordics to over 15 billion euro and trade together annually and more than 450 enterprise Ireland’s supported companies do business with this region known as a region that is progressive, stable and open to innovation.”

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