The new Executive Officer of the International Barents Secretariat wants to increase the coherence, synergy and efficiency of Barents cooperation.
The International Barents Secretariat in Kirkenes, Norway got a new team member at the end of August. As the Executive Officer Laura Quist will support the Barents working groups’ activities as well as assist both the governmental and regional Chairs in implementing the chairmanship activities. Her responsibility is also to enhance the knowledge and competence of the local actors on the various financing possibilities for Barents cooperation.
During her previous employment at the Ministry for Foreign Affairs of Finland Laura was engaged in regional cooperation in the Northern Europe. She participated in the implementation of the Finnish Chairmanship of the Barents Euro-Arctic Council in 2013-1015. One of the key tasks was the preparation and completion of the Barents Foreign Ministers’ Meeting in Oulu, Finland in October 2015. She was also a founding member and the secretary of the international expert group, which conducted a study on the financing of multilateral project cooperation in the Barents region.
At the Finnish Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment she took part in the work of the Barents Working Group on Economic Cooperation.
– Since I have previously worked with Barents issues from the capital it is of special interest for me to be located here in the region. This new commission in Kirkenes offers a new perspective as well as new inspiring insights on Barents cooperation in general. Barents cooperation is unique due to its two-layered structure - the governmental and the regional - and this position in Kirkenes gives me the possibility to engage in the cooperation "from the inside", Laura says.
Laura Quist is happy that despite the challenging international political situation,
Barents cooperation has continued in a constructive manner. She sees the Barents cooperation as a unique framework for international cooperation also at a grass-roots level.
– Barents-related issues, alongside with Arctic issues, are getting higher and higher on the regional and international political agendas. Combatting climate change and promoting sustainable development demand more resources and more attention than they are currently getting.
The new EU Arctic Communication underlines that the EU has considerable resources which it can dedicate to advancing issues in the Arctic region. Laura finds that an enhanced EU participation is also needed to further develop cooperation in the Northern Europe.
– I hope that in the future a bigger number of Barents projects will materialize as EU-funded projects and the Barents regions themselves will assume an even stronger ownership of Barents projects and activities.
– Furthermore, I expect cooperation and coordination with the other sister-councils: the Arctic Council, the Council of the Baltic Sea States and the Nordic Council of Ministers, as well as with the Northern Dimension, where appropriate.
Text by Johanna Westerlund