The conference of Foreign Ministers in Kirkenes, Norway, on 11 January 1993 adopted the following Terms of Reference.
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- The purpose of the Barents Euro-Arctic Council will be to serve as a forum for cooperation among the participants.
- The Council will consist of the participants at the Kirkenes Conference and of other states wishing to take an active part.
- The Council will meet at Foreign Minister or other relevant ministerial level. It may also meet at senior official level.
- The Kirkenes Conference is to be considered the founding conference as well as the first session of the Council.
- The Council will normally convene once a year at Foreign Minister level. Each session will set the date and venue of the next session upon invitation of a participant.
- The chairmanship of each session will be assumed by the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the host country. The chairmanship will initially rotate between Finland, Norway, Russia and Sweden.
- The participant hosting a meeting of the Council will bear the costs related to conference services, premises and interpretation.
- Ministerial sessions of the Council will normally be conducted in a Nordic language, Russian and English with simultaneous interpretation being provided by the host country.
- Decisions of the Council and its subsidiary bodies will be taken by consensus.
- Each session of the Council at Foreign Minister level will be prepared by a meeting or meetings at senior official level. Such meetings will be arranged by the participant hosting the next session of the Council.
- The Council and its working bodies may decide to invite special participants, guests or observers to contribute to its work. This may include representatives of regions, subregions and international organizations.
- The agenda will be determined by the host country in consultation with the other participants.
- Participation in the Council will not in any way infringe on any international obligation, be it of a legal or a political nature, undertaken by any of the participating states.