More than 150 people assembled in Tromsø to discuss the future of cross-border Barents cooperation.(Photo: Atle Staalesen)
As tensions in East-West relations mount, more than 150 representatives of NGOs, regional authorities and institutions meet in Tromsø, northern Norway, to discuss enhanced Norwegian-Russian cooperation in the Barents Region.
“We have a challenging geopolitical situation with serious violations of international law by Russia, but regional cooperation should still move on as before”, Line Fusdahl, Head of the Troms County Government, underlined at a cross-border cooperation conference today.
The northern Norwegian regional leader highlighted that a well-established regional Barents cooperation has been going on for decades, both on the level of local people-to-people relations and within the frames of the Barents Regional Council. This cooperation must be continued, Fusdahl argued.
Ms Fusdahl is supported by the Norwegian Foreign Ministry, which at the event expressed its continued support to CBC.
“Cooperation which is not affected by sanctions must be allowed to continue”, Deputy Minister Bård Glad Pedersen said at the event. That includes not only CBC, but also fisheries, search and rescue, environment, culture, research, civil society and nuclear security, he added.
Troms County Council leader Line Fusdahl and Norwegian Deputy Foreign Minister Bård Glad Pedersen took part in discussions in Tromsø, Thursday. (Photo: Atle Staalesen)
At the same time, Pedersen expressed his government’s strong opposition to the current political agenda of the Kremlin and reiterated its support to the EU sanctions line against the country. The Russian annexation of the Crimea and the involvement in other parts of eastern Ukraine is putting European stability at stake, Pedersen argued, and maintained that “we are entering a new phase in Russia’s relationship to the surrounding world”.
“This could affect our relationship with Russia for a long time ahead”, he underlined.
The conference in Tromsø is organized by the Norwegian Barents Secretariat and aims at addressing challenges and opportunities in regional cross-border project cooperation with Russia. More than 150 people, most of them from northern Norway, attended the event. The Barents Secretariat operates a regional grants mechanism for cross-border initiatives between northern Norway and parts of Northwest Russia.