12th October 2013, the Baltic community and its friends gathered at the historic Cambridge Union Society to discuss science, politics and business. GLL was invited to moderate on of the conference workshops on social and political development, discussing how to stimulate meritocracy in the Baltic States. The Cambridge Baltic Conference 2013 was the largest pan-Baltic event organised outside the Baltic States, which attracted more than 250 participants.

The aim of the conference was to set new challenges and present new insights, which will benefit both the Baltic States and the members of the European community. The tasks at hand were to engage the international community and the Baltic leaders, to discuss the issues relevant to all three Baltic nations, to raise questions and matters relevant for the future development of the region, and to find new ways of working together.

The first segment of the conference started with the welcoming speech by the Former President of Lithuania, Valdas Adamkus. The President highlighted the importance of such events arguing that they would further enhance co-operation in the region.

“Co-operation within the Baltics and the Balts’ cooperation with the United States strengthens regional security and stability. During the meeting of the Baltic presidents with President Barrack Obama, which took place in August, the presidents stressed the importance of co-operation on the promotion of civil liberties, human rights, rule of law and democratic values, all of which are related to the Lithuanian Presidency of the European Union’s Council,” said the President.

After the opening speech, the participants had the opportunity to listen to five inspiring speeches and engaging panel discussions lead by eminent speakers. Dr Richard Mole, Senior Lecturer in Political Sociology at University College London, talked about the importance of the Baltic cultural identities in the early 1990s arguing that they had social and security implications which led to the withdrawal of the Soviet troops from the Baltic States after they had announced their independences from the Soviet Union.

Dr Roberts Kilis, former Latvian Minister of Education and Science, delivered a speech on social inequality and growing educational divide in the Baltic States.

“It has been noted that better educated youth leave while less educated people stay in the Baltics. A system of continuous education, or education for life, might help to reduce the risk of poverty and social inequality,” suggested Dr Kilis.

Edward Lucas, international editor of The Economist, was also present at the Conference and shared his opinion on geopolitical environment in the region of the Baltic State. Lucas stated that the EU acted greatly against the Gazprom’s influence and noted that a new Russian gas giant might replace Gazprom in the near future. The journalist also argued that NATO’s Steadfast Jazz 2013 would be the most important military exercise since the Cold War and could be regarded as a signal for Russia that the alliance was committed to the territorial defence of its member-states.

Arnoldas Pranckevičius, Diplomatic Adviser to the President of the European Parliament, noted that the European Union was at a crossroads, experiencing crises of leadership, vision and direction, and that the major challenges were still ahead. Pranckevičius concluded that it was in the interest of the Baltic States to have a stable and secure neighbourhood and noted that the success of the EU would provide the Baltics with the possibility to participate in the global decision making.

Vice-President of the European Commission, Siim Kallas, delivered a speech on whether the EU member-states could gain more by standing together or working separately.  The official argued that the states should support the EU projects as much as possible and work on their own towards the projects, over which the EU’s influence was less noticeable. Kallas stressed that the EU membership did not challenge sovereignty of the states.

The second segment of the day was more interactive, as it invited the partakers of the conference to work together in a set of workshops. There were four groups that worked on Academia and Higher Education, Innovation, Branding and Social and Political Development. The last workshop was led by Global Lithuanian Leaders and Lithuanian City of London Club. Participants had the chance to discuss how to ensure that the careers of global professionals returning to public or private sectors are based on merit rather than familiarity.

This event is part of a wider long-term target to create a gateway for the future communication and exchange among its guests and participants. Therefore, the conference will incorporate many opportunities to facilitate an exchange of information, contacts and experience for professional and social purposes, all of which will contribute to the future ties of successful working partnerships and fruitful acquaintances.

The Patrons of the event werw the British Ambassador to Estonia, Chris Holtby OBE; the British Ambassador to Latvia, Sarah Cowley; and the British Ambassador to Lithuania, David Hunt.

The Cambridge Baltic Conference 2013 was supported by Enterprise Estonia, pan-Baltic law firm TRINITI, Lithuanian Foreign Ministry, and Cambridge University Societies Syndicate Fund.

Source: The Lithuania Tribune http://bit.ly/14v3qyl