Yury Smirnov is no longer working for the Nordic Council's office in Murmansk. Here in front of the Barents Centre.(Photo: Thomas Nilsen)
MURMANSK: Yury Smirnov can’t longer promote Nordic-Russian cooperation on the Kola Peninsula. In addition; President of Nordic Council called off planned visit to Murmansk because of the tense situation with Russia.
Yury Smirnov has for more than a decade worked with Nordic financed projects in the Murmansk region, mainly in the sphere of culture, education and exchange. Now, the door to the office is closed after a decision by the Nordic Council of Ministers’ administration earlier this winter.
“In my opinion, the Nordic Council will definitely be less visible here,” says Yuri Smirnov to BarentsObserver.
“Already initiated projects will be followed up, like the Nordic Days with a long list of Cultural program to take place in early April. But, I don’t know what the perspectives are for future Nordic projects,” Yury Smirnov explains.
The office was opened in 2000 and was for the first 12 years located next to the Norwegian Barents Secretariat’s office in Murmansk.
The office was closed before the last weeks’ development with Russia’s annexation of Crimea and current EU sanctions against Moscow. A contact point in Arkhangelsk financed by the Nordic Council of Ministers will now take over potential projects- and information needs in the Murmansk region.
“The overall task of the Contact Centres is to facilitate contacts, networking and partnership between the NCM Secretariat, Information office in St. Petersburg and local authorities, representations, institutions and organizations. Furthermore the Contact Centres ensure distribution of information about NCM policies and programs in Barents Region,” the web-portal reads.
President called off Murmansk tour The tense situation between the Nordic countries and Moscow after Russia’s annexation of Crimea is also hampering Nordic cooperation with Russia’s Murmansk region. A planned visit to Murmansk this week by Karin Åström, President of Nordic Council was called off. She calls on the Russian Federation to take steps to de-escalate the tense situation between Russia and Ukraine.
“The situation is unfortunately now so tense, that we must postpone a planned visit to Murmansk next week to later,” Karin Åström says in a statement.
She continues: “Unless the situation further escalates we wish however to continue to have dialogue with parliamentarians from Russia. But the situation in Southeast of Europe has impact on our relations in Northern Europe, so we will carefully evaluate the development and might reconsider this dialogue if we don’t see de-escalation.”