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Baltic States: Denmark Assumes Presidency Of Baltic Sea Council

Riga, 3 July 1997 (RFE/RL) - Latvia today handed over the rotating presidency of the Baltic Sea Council to Denmark. The development followed completion of two-days of meetings in Riga between foreign ministry officials from the 11-member states.

Danish Foreign Minister Niels Helveg Petersen said Copenhagen would use its one-year presidency to promote democracy and human rights in the region. He said economics, security, education and environmental protection would be other focuses.

The diplomats meeting in Riga issued a joint communique today calling for greater efforts to eliminate economic disparities between the countries on the eastern and western shores of the Baltic Sea.

In other matters, a Council committee failed to agree on setting up a permanent secretariat for the group. The secretariat would ensure technical and administrative assistance to the Council and help coordinate more than 500 projects already underway.

The Baltic Sea Council is composed of Estonia, Lithuania, Latvia, Russia, Germany, Poland, Norway, Denmark, Sweden, Finland and Iceland.