Clean, Safe and Smart Baltic Sea is the theme of Finland's current presidency of the Council of the Baltic Sea States. One of the main priorities includes people-to-people cooperation in the region, which we here in Geneva put into practice by collaborating with our Nordic and Baltic fellows as Lithuania hosted a Baltic Sea Day celebration in September.
The Baltic Sea that geographically separates our countries brought us together during this After Work Party to enjoy music, culture and gastronomy from our region. The party was held in the picture perfect venue at Geneva Welcome Center's (CAGI) La Pastoral, a beautiful mansion in the heart of the city. The main host of the evening, the ambassador of Lithuania, Mr Rytis Paulauskas said in his welcome speech:
"Besides its ecological meaning Baltic Sea Day celebrates and honors region's cooperative spirit and its cultural roots. You might ask do we need to talk about the Nordic-Baltic region here in the heart of Europe? We are dynamic, innovative and interconnected Smart Region. We are proud to be part of this region. And this is a good cause to celebrate."
I got a unique chance to sip a cup of tea and chat about the event with ambassador Paulauskas and secretary of cultural affairs Ms Eglė Aleknaitė at the premises of the Mission of Lithuania.
Where did the idea for the event originally come from?
Ambassador Paulauskas: - It was pretty clear that Lithuania would take the leadership of this event as we are the current EU-president. But the whole concept took the shape during the process. We were delighted to get support from our Nordic-Baltic friends and Finland's ambassador Mrs Päivi Kairamo was among the first to say this is important, let's do it. Also the help we received from Geneva Welcome center CAGI was highly appreciated and essential to make this happen. And as the process went on we gained a good team spirit within the group, which is good and showed how the Nordic-Baltic cooperation functions.
How many guests did the evening attract and what kind of feedback did you receive?
Ms Aleknaitė: There were easily more than 500 people. Especially the young diplomats said that this was something they are not used to but that's why it was so interesting and they are looking forward the next year. So the overall feedback was very positive.
Lithuanian rock star Andrius Mamontovas performed with his band at the event. Normally he is playing for tens of thousands of people in huge arenas. Was it difficult to get him come and play at the smallish, semi-private garden party?
Ambassador Paulauskas: - Andrius was really supportive for the whole idea and as a professional, long-term artist he understands that music is a great way to deliver a message. He also came along to meet our budget.
Rock music, after work party, are these kinds of events typical at the ambassadorial level?
Ambassador Paulauskas: It's not very typical to have hard rock band performing and instead, we are maybe more used to classical music. But having a rock band was a risk we were willing to take and we wanted to take.
Ms Aleknaitė: And I think it paid off.
What about next year, could Baltic Sea Day celebration become a tradition here in Geneva?
Ambassador Paulauskas: It's also pretty much up to our colleagues, do we see the sense. If we think this is worth it I think with relatively small amount it could be done. This year the emphasis was on music and gastronomy, next time it could be something else, for example technological innovations. Our region has a lot to offer.
Ms Aleknaite: I'm definitely in if Finland will bring HIM!
So am I.
Text and photos: Miia Mäkinen, intern, Permanent Mission of Finland, Geneva