Ladies and gentlemen,
It is with great pleasure that we today may honour the achievements of long and hard work in protecting the marine environment of the Baltic Sea.
The Baltic Sea has shaped this part of Europe, and after half a century of separation by political reasons, the sea is now regaining its historical role in bringing together the countries and people surrounding it.
The Baltic Sea is a highly sensitive body of water. It is the largest brackish sea in the world. The water is a mix of fresh water from rivers and salty ocean water. This meaning that many of the plants and animals in the Baltic live at the edge of their physical environment.
My own choice of living has often been on the waterfront. My family and I have spent many summers at the island of Öland in the southern Baltic. The Baltic water and its region are important to many Swedes. Without a clean and healthy sea the region risks to lose its attraction.
Our responsibility to protect the Baltic Sea is great. We are not only responsible towards our neighbours around the Baltic, but also towards our future generations.
I am therefore very pleased to note that the Swedish Government is giving the EU Strategy for the Baltic Sea high priority during its presidency of the European Union. And I am pleased that the marine environment receives a lot of attention during this conference.
Dear Mr Chairman,
Your organisation has been awarded the Swedish Government's Baltic Sea Water Award 2009. This reflects three decades of important work by your organisation and by the members of your organization.
It is a very well deserved award. Cross border cooperation is the key to success. Joint efforts between states can solve the long list of challenges for our environment.
The European Union Strategy for the Baltic Sea gives high attention to the HELCOM Baltic Sea Action Plan. HELCOM has taken important steps to enhance coordination and cooperation in the region.
I wish you all success in your endeavour. Your duty is important to all of us!