“We look forward to welcoming Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov to the Barents Council’s Foreign Ministers’ meeting in Tromsø on 26 October.”
These were the words of State Secretary Audun Halvorsen (Conservatives) of the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs on Monday when attending the 30th anniversary for the cooperation between the High North Center for Business and Governance at Nord University and Russian education institutions.
Towards the end of each chairmanship period, the foreign ministers of the Barents Council convene. In October, Finland takes over the chairmanship from Norway.
“The Barents cooperation is a valuable platform for cross-border contact with Russia in the Arctic. The Norwegian chairmanship of the Barents Council in the 2019-2021 period has been a priority for the [Norwegian] government”, Halvorsen added.
The Russian Embassy in Norway says to High North News that it cannot as of yet confirm whether or not Lavrov will attend in Tromsø, however, it acknowledges his being invited.
High North News has reached out to the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs for a comment, however, has as of yet not received any response.
Foreign Minister Lavrov last visited Norway in 2019 in connection with the 75th anniversary of the Soviet liberation of eastern Finnmark County in 1944. It was then five years since the previous visit to Norway by a Russian foreign minister.
The Norwegian and Russian foreign ministers last met during the Ministerial Meeting of the Arctic Council in Iceland in May. They also had digital meetings last January.
State Secretary Audun Halvorsen has previously stated to High North News that the frequency of political talks and consultations with Russia has increased in later years.
“After the immediate cooling in 2014 and 2015, political contact has resumed some, and the number of political conversation sand consultations has increased since 2017.”
However, he explained, there was a drop in the number of political meetings in 2020, largely due to technical challenges related to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Dialogue has nevertheless grown more demanding in the field of security politics, he added.
The Barents Euro-Arctic Council
- A forum for inter-state cooperation when it comes to issues related to the Barents region.
- Members of the Barents Council include Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, Russia, Sweden and the EU Commission.
- Nine countries hold observer status.
- The chairmanship rotates on a two-year basis between Finland, Norway, Russia and Sweden.
Source: The Norwegian government (regjeringen.no)
This article was originally published in Norwegian and has been translated by HNN's Elisabeth Bergquist.