The High North and the Barents Cooperation was on top of the agenda in Wednesday’s meeting beween Barth Eide and Governor Marina Kovtun of Murmansk.
Less than two months ahead the 20th anniversary of the Barents Cooperation, Minister Eide says that the regional cooperation has been “a source of inspiration in relations between the states”. He also argues that there is a connection between the long-term Barents Cooperation and the recent delimitation of the Barents Sea. “It is based on the good climate which has been developed regionally over the years”, he told BarentsObserver in an exclusive interview.
Anniversary celebrations of the Barents Cooperation will be held in Kirkenes in January 2013 and followed up by a top meeting between prime ministers in June.
When established on 11 January 1993, the Barents Cooperation became a new platform for regional cooperation between Norway, Russia, Finland and Sweden. Today, four countries, 13 regional entities, as well representatives of indigenous peoples and a wide variety of civil society organizations and public institutions, are closely engaged in the cooperation structures.
A key issue in the upcoming anniversary celebrations will be the adoption of a Kirkenes Declaration II, a new guiding document for the regional cooperation. According to Barth Eide, issues of civil society development and democracy will remain important components in relations.
Also Governor Marina Kovtun has on several occasions highlighted the importance of the Barents Cooperation. In an meeting with Norwegian foreign ministry representatives in June, the governor said that the Kirkenes Declaration from 1993 is a “unique document, which opened new opportunities for international cooperation” and expressed major expectation from the Kirkenes Declaration II.
Before meeting with Minister Eide, Governor Kovtun attended a session in the Barents Regional Council, a body which includes regional leaders from all 13 counties and provinces in the region. Among the other regional leaders attending the meeting was Governor Igor Orlov from Arkhangelsk.
MURMANSK: Ecological groups gathered on Kola Peninsula fear that Barents nature will be the looser after Oslo decided to call off the environmental minister’s Moscow meeting in response to Russia’s annexation of Crimea.
TROMSØ: Since the first five specimens of snow crab were found in the Barents Sea in 1996, the population has exploded. There is now ten times as much snow crab than king crab in the area, and scientists are just starting to find out how this new species has adopted to life in the Barents Sea.
The nuclear-powered icebreaker Yamal today leaves port of Murmansk for a two-month expedition to the Russian Arctic. The aim for the expedition is to study ice and weather conditions in the area to prepare for future oil and gas projects.
The National Archives Service of Finland and the Sámi Archives have proposed including the Skolt Sámi archives in the UNESCO Memory of the World Register. Only 301 items have been listed in the register so far.
The current situation in Ukraine makes cross-border cooperation with the neighboring countries even more important, Barents Secretariat leader Rune Rafaelsen says. At the same time, Norway has joined NATO’s condemnation of Russia’s military escalation on the Crimea peninsula.
Board member Amund Trellevik in the press network fears entry-denial of Kremlin’s controversial propaganda-journalist Dmitry Kiselyov could be retaliated by refusing Norwegian journalists access to Russia.