Sergei Lavrov sees cross-border cooperation as an important part of his country's Arctic policies. Here from his visit to the Norwegian-Russian border with Norway's Jonas Gahr Støre in 2008. Photo: Jonas Karlsbakk/BarentsObserver
The development of cross-border relations with neighboring countries is a key component in Russian Arctic policy, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov says.
Talking at this week’s meeting in the Federal Council of regional leaders, Lavrov highlighted the importance of inter-regional and cross-border cooperation between northern Russian federal subjects and neighboring countries. “This is an important component in international Arctic cooperation,” Lavrov said, a press release from the ministry reads.
The meeting, which was devoted to international cooperation in the Arctic, included representatives of a number of northern Russian federal subjects, among them Murmansk Oblast, Arkhangelsk Oblast and the Nenets AO.
In her speech at the session, Murmansk Governor Marina Kovtun underlined that “Russian national interests serve as the basis for the engagement of Murmansk Oblast in international Arctic cooperation.” She also highlighted the importance of the local visa-free agreement with Norway, a deal which came into effect on 29 May this year, the regional administration informs. The agreement enables locals in the Russian Pechenga Rayon and the Norwegian municipality of Sør-Varanger to cross the border without visas.
The agreement is the first of its kind to come into effect in Russia.
According to Governor Kovtun, the Federal Council of regional leaders recommends that the Russian Border Agency (Rosgranitsa) makes the Borisgleb checkpoint on the border to Norway a priority. Murmansk is pushing on the Agency to include the checkpoint in its 2012-2020 financing programme.
Murmansk Oblast borders on both Norway and Finland and is a key stakeholder in the Barents Cooperation.