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- Cross-border contacts more important than ever

The current situation in Ukraine makes cross-border cooperation with the neighboring countries even more important, Barents Secretariat leader Rune Rafaelsen says.

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.

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“It is more important than ever to continue people-to-people cooperation across the borders”, Rune Rafaelsen says in a comment to the recent days’ development Ukraine. “In the Barents cooperation we are focusing on dialogue and interaction, values that we now are trying to promote in other border areas in Europe, also in Ukraine”.

Rafaelsen recently visited the border area between Slovakia and Ukraine, where the Barents Secretariat is Donor Program Partner for the Norway Grants initiative on cross-border cooperation between the two countries. He met with Ukrainian regional representatives from Uzhgorod to discuss with them the experience from 20 years of successful Norwegian-Russian cooperation in the north.

The Norwegian government has joined NATO’s condemnation of Russia’s military escalation on the Crimea peninsula in Ukraine, the government’s web site reads.

The Russian military activity on Crimea and the threats of further use of military power is a violation of international law. Russia has a heavy responsibility in calming down the tense situation. Russian authorities must immediately meet the Ukrainian request for dialogue to solve the crisis without any use of violence, Norway’s Foreign Minister Børge Brende says.

“Through its military actions and threats of further use of military power, Russia is violating fundamental agreements it has made through the UN Charter, the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), The Council of Europe and the NATO-Russian Council, Brende said. “It is an important signal that NATO has expressed full support for Ukraine’s territorial integrity and sovereignty.”