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The European Straits promote harmonious economic development of their areas (Gulf of Finland, 1-4 October 2013)

Published the 18 October 2013

The 16 partners in the European NOSTRA (Network Of STRAits) project, the first major project undertaken by the European Straits Initiative, held a series of meetings on the Gulf of Finland coastline, in Helsinki (Finland), and then in Tallinn (Estonia), from 1 to 4 October 2013. The week started with the Economic Forum in Helsinki on the economic development of straits and on the relationship between coastal areas and their hinterlands. It continued with an examination of the good practices being implemented by other straits in the network in relation to the same issue.

After workshops on seascapes (Kent / Strait of Dover) in February, on sustainable tourism and on cultural heritage (Lecce / Strait of Otranto) in April, on maritime safety and green transport in May (Fehmarn Island, Region Zealand / Strait of Fehmarn), the last workshop of the year, which took place on the coast of the Gulf of Finland, addressed the issue of the economies of coasts and of their hinterlands, by means of the swapping of good practices between the partners in the NOSTRA project.

The only strait in the network where two capitals face each other – the Gulf of Finland – is also one of the gateways between Northern Europe and Russia, as Saint Petersburg is only 300 kilometres from Helsinki and Tallinn. There is a very high level of exchanges and migratory flows between these two countries (e.g. work, tourism). The individuals taking part in the forum thus demonstrated the extensive nature of relations within the strait.

The forum and the workshop were opened by the Chairman of the Helsinki Regional Council, Mr Eero Heinäluoma, the Mayor of the Region, Mr Ossi Savolainen, and the Governor of Harju County (Estonia), Ms Ülle Rajasalu, a signatory of the "Memorandum of Understanding" establishing the European Straits Initiative (ESI). Elected representatives from the Province of Lecce, from the Province of Reggio Calabria (both in Italy) and from Vlorë (in Albania) also took part in this week of work, thus bearing witness to the interest in and the political commitment of the partners in the network to furthering the causes of straits.

The partners, elected representatives and technicians involved in the NOSTRA project were able to find out about the sustainable economic development practices implemented as regards the Gulf of Finland and were able to outline their own initiatives. These exchanges concerned sustainable transportation, ports, and economic activities which are respectful of the environment.

Find out about the good practices presented at this workshop by visiting the NOSTRA website, at www.nostraproject.eu/documents.

The event also enabled a European Straits Initiative meeting to take place, which was held – symbolically – on board a ferry in the middle of the strait. The partners were able to discuss the crafting of a political message regarding the specificities of European straits, which all of the organisation will endeavour to get across to European institutions and which will be based on the work carried out as part of the NOSTRA project. The straits of Europe thus continue to develop, by combining a project-based approach with a strategy-based approach, in order to garner maximum benefits for the men and women who live in strait areas.

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