“The Barents Cooperation is acknowledged as one of the more successful dialogue formats in Northern Europe and has demonstrated resilience towards political trends and turns. Here, the region’s established tradition for mutual assistance and good neighborly relations, as well as a uniquely high level of cross-border connections, contribute.”
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov made the comment when speaking at the annual Kirkenes Conference Wednesday. The conference is fully digital this year. It is the first time ever that Lavrov attends the conference.
“I hope that the Barents cooperation in the coming years will not only preserve its dynamic, but also expand when it comes to strengthening the European north, trust, stability and good neighborly relations”, he said.
Cooperation during the pandemic
The Russian foreign minister also addressed how the pandemic has affected cross-border cooperation. Lavrov was clear that cooperation has shown progress in almost all key areas, including health, transport, environment, forestry, as well as dialogue about youth and indigenous people, despite restrictions following from the Corona virus.
“The number of activities conducted digitally in recent months is clear proof. Thanks to the efforts of Norway and also Sweden’s West Bothnia County, we were able to conduct a high-level meeting for the Barents region last October, one dedicated to the effects of Covid-19 on multilateral interactions in this part of Europe and to conquering negative consequences of the pandemic”, he added.
“We consider the outcome of the meeting as positive, in particular with regard to maintaining regular political dialogue in the Barents region.”
Despite restrictions following from the Corona virus, our cooperation shows progress in almost all key areas.
According to Lavrov, a key issue on the agenda is to strengthen the funding foundations for this cooperation. He says Russia is working with its partner in the Barents Council with the aim of starting a separate funding mechanism for the Barents region in 2022.
“It is our shared job to enable our multilateral cooperation in this part of the Arctic to lead to even more results and becoming even more diverse. We are convinced that securing a stable socio-economic and ecological development and establishing comfortable living conditions for people in the High North must remain a priority task for interaction in the Arctic”, he says.
This article was originally published in Norwegian and has been translated by HNN's Elisabeth Bergquist.