History of Barents co-operation
The end of cold war started a new era in the Barents co-operation. Balance of terror changed into common goals on preserving and protecting the Arctic. In the Arctic tensions after the cold war were channelled into co-operation, especially in environmental field.
In the early 1990s several international institutions were created to facilitate collaboration in the Arctic, such as the Arctic Council and the Barents Euro-Arctic Council. This has enabled cooperation in areas such as search and rescue and environmental protection. While the Barents region still hosts important military resources, the scope of military activities has changed and joint military exercises are held on a regular basis.
The cooperation in the Barents Euro-Arctic Region (BEAR) was launched in 1993 when Sweden, Finland, Norway, Demark, Iceland, the Russian Federation, and the EU Commission signed the Kirkenes Declaration establishing the Barents Euro-Arctic Council (BEAC) at a Foreign Minister’s Conference in Kirkenes, Norway. At the same time, the Barents regions’ county governors and representatives of indigenous peoples signed a cooperation protocol establishing the Barents Regional Council (BRC). The Barents cooperation was thus launched at two levels: BEAC is a forum for intergovernmental cooperation while the BRC is aimed at cooperation between the 14 regions of the Member States. The Indigenous Peoples have an advisory role in relation to the both Councils. The interregional cross-border cooperation and the status of the indigenous peoples are also features making the Barents cooperation unique in a global perspective.