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Finland takes the Barents chair

Finland’s Foreign Minister Erkki Tuomioja after receiving the gavel from the outgoing chair of the Barents Council, Norway’s Børge Brende.

TROMSØ: “We are determined to promote economic cooperation and people-to-people contacts across borders,” said Finland’s Foreign Minister Erkki Tuomioja after receiving the gavel from the outgoing chair of the Barents Council, Norway’s Børge Brende.

Location

The Finnish Foreign Minister will head the Barents cooperation for the coming two years. Erkki Tuomioja was one of the few speakers mentioning the important role of NGOs and civil society at Tuesday’s Barents Council meeting in Tromsø, where the Foreign Ministers of Sweden, Finland, Norway and Iceland met, in addition to Russia’s Deputy Foreign Minister and an ambassador from the European Union. 

“NGOs and civil society play a key role for the future of the Barents Cooperation,” said Erkki Tuomioja. 

Finland highlights the youth cooperation and says promoting of equal opportunities for education and work as well as youth mobility.

The joint communique adopted by the ministers reads strong support to the active involvement of NGOs in relevant aspects of the Barents cooperation.

In his speech, outgoing chair of the council Børge Brende said the new Norwegian government would like to enhance east-west infrastructure and transport corridors across the borders in the Barents Region. Brende especially mentioned longer opening times at the Storskog border checkpoint and new facilities so that even more people can easily cross the borders. Finland will continue with the same focus.

“The accessibility of the region is a necessary precondition for dynamic economic development and mobility. We will continue work for a joint vision of how the transport network in the region should be developed,” said Erkki Tuomioja.