Baltic Cup – where diplomacy meets football

On 8th of May, Copenhagen and Danish Ministry of Foreign Affairs hosted the 5th Baltic Cup tournament in football. This one-day competition between the ministries of foreign affairs of the Baltic Sea countries takes place every year and brings together the diplomats from Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Latvia, Lithuania and Poland.

The tradition was started by Lithuania in 2005 in Vilnius followed by the tournaments in Tallinn, Gdynia and Helsinki. The main rationale for the event was to take already good co-operation between the participating countries to more informal ground and this way advancing it further. As Matti Maasikas, the former Secretary General of Estonian Ministry of Foreign Affair well put it in his inaugural speech of the tournament in Tallinn, football is throughly global channel of communication and it nearly always works.

Baltic Cup has been an excellent pool for creating contacts and meeting new and old friends. Darius Degutis, previously the special representative of Lithuania in the questions of economic security and currently Lithuanian Ambassador to Israel, was the mastermind of the first Baltic Cup tournament in Vilnius. Cyryl Kozaczewski, the acting Political Director of Polish Ministry of Foreign Affairs is one of the leading figures of the Polish team. Estonian Deputy Permanent Representative to the EU Gert Antsu and a Liverpool-fan has been Estonian goalkeeper during the last two years. Gints Jegermanis, the Latvian Ambassador to Denmark, may have supported Latvia in their game against their Northern neighbor, but still excelled in his knowledge of Estonian language and could not hide his warmth about the country where he served years ago. Sven Isojärvi, also a very interesting person for Estonia with his Estonian roots, but in the service of Finnish diplomacy.

Of course, Baltic Cup is also about winning and losing like all the other sport events, even if the games in Copenhagen 2010 will go down in history as the most even ones. Denmark was deservedly the best team beating Finland 1:0 in the final. Lithuania, the defending champion and most successful team so far with three victories in a row came third. After conceding two narrow defeats to Poland and Finland in the group stage, Estonia managed to overcome Latvia in the dramatic derby for the fifth place with the goal in the dying seconds of the game.

Next year the Baltic Cup community will meet in Riga. Latvia has promised to deliver what Denmark did this year – organize a fantastic sport and diplomatic event and repeat their success on the field.

Tanel Tang,

Estonia’s Permanent Representation to the EU

Photo: Estonian Ambassador to Denmark Mrs. Meelike Palli with the Estonian team at Baltic Cup 2010