”People-to-people cooperation is the core in what we are doing”, Dalhaug says to BarentsObserver.
The former deputy was this week appointed acting head of the Norwegian Barents Secretariat, the government-supported organization which promotes cross-border cooperation between Norway and Russia, as well as neighboring Sweden and Finland.
”People must be able to travel and engage in joint activities across the border, this promotes peace and stability”, Dalhaug stresses. ”Given the difficult political situation, the Barents Cooperation is more important than ever,” she adds.
Dalhaug has many years of experience from the region and has been instrumental in developing the Barents regional youth cooperation.
She has the job as long as Secretariat leader Pia Svensgaard is on sick leave.
According to Dalhaug, the Barents Cooperation is vital for regional development and that needs to be better communicated to the public.
”This cooperation enriches the whole Barents region within fields like culture, sports, education, and more. It makes the region more exciting and interesting, and a better place to live,” she underlines.
Based in the border town of Kirkenes, the Barents Secretariat has over the last two decades managed the Norwegian MFA funds for people-to-people cooperation with Northwest Russia.
More than 5000 projects have been granted support, many of them within fields like culture, sports, indigenous people and education.