€18 million for Barents projects
The Norwegian Barents Secretariat will over the next three years grant €18 million to people-to-people projects in the Barents Region. “This gives us a unique possibility to develop even better cross border relations in the north,” says Secretary General Rune Rafaelsen.
Every year the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs place funds at the disposal of the Norwegian Barents Secretariat which is aimed at supporting regional Norwegian-Russian cooperation projects in the Barents Region. However, the grant has in 2012 become a three year grant instead of one year. The total grant of €18 million gives the Secretariat a far better basis for achieving their goals.
“This three year grant provides us with predictability and stability for our work. It enables us to focus more long term and to achieve the goals we set for the Barents program,” says Rafaelsen.
Rafaelsen sees the three year grant as a confirmation of the accomplishments of the Norwegian Barents Secretariat's work. The secretariat, which have been active since 1993, has granted support to more than 4 000 Norwegian-Russian cooperation projects since the start. The projects have involved all parts of Norwegian and Russian society, from kinder gardens to senior citizen associations. From sports tournaments to multi million business projects.
“For the Barents Secretariat it is important to manage the funds in a way which secures the good relations in the north and to strengthen the ties between the Barents countries,” says Rafaelsen.
The €18 million is both for the Barents program, which promotes people-to-people projects within sectors like culture, environment, indigenous people and business. In addition there is a grant for the BarentsKult program, which is a program aimed at promoting professional culture and art in the region.
20 years of cooperation
The Barents Program has developed through several phases since the establishment in 1993. The initial idea was to secure peace in a region where cold war had been an obstacle for maintaining good relations for almost 50 years. As the Barents Region enters its 20th year of existence, the celebrations in 2013 will be highlighting the cooperation’s importance in promoting good cross border relations.
“In June 2013 the leaders of the four Barents countries will gather in Kirkenes. A key issue for the celebrations will be to set the path for the next 20 years of Barents cooperation. We in the Norwegian Barents Secretariat take active part in this work, and the three year grant gives us the possibility to see further ahead in this work,” says Rafaelsen.