“Barents cooperation and its positive development – a showcase of constructive EU-Russia cooperation”
The Kirkenes Conference
EU Ambassador at Large of the Arctic speaking
This week the Barents Capital is hosting the annual Kirkenes Conference.
Together with simultaneously arranged Barents Spectacle cultural events, the
conference is the highlight of the year for many in the Barents region.
Bringing together politics, industry and the regional actors the conference has
become the most important meeting point for the people in the Barents region.
This year the focus is strongly on sustainable development, people-to-people
cooperation and strategic infrastructure in the North.
The first day included sessions on sustainable use of
resources. Discussions about sustainable tourism, wind power and overall
greener future of new energy sources brought together professionals and policy
makers from various fields.
On the second day, the focus was shifted to transport future
development in the North. Anne Berner, the Finnish Minister for
Transport & Communications, wanted to connect the Barents region to the
rest of Europe and Asia by improving logistical infrastructure and thus promoting
the Barents region as a logistics hub.
In the dialogue with her Norwegian colleagues, she stressed
the importance of intelligent transport solutions and fast data connections in
addition to logistical infrastructure. Also prospects of possible railroad
connecting Finland to Norwegian sea coast was mentioned by several speakers.
Marie-Anne Coninsx, EU
Ambassador at Large of the Arctic, praised the Barents cooperation and its
positive development as a showcase of constructive EU-Russia cooperation in a
difficult geopolitical environment. She highlighted that the Barents region can
be a dynamo for sustainable development to the benefit of the region and
its inhabitants and act as an inspiration to other parts of the world.
Coninsx stressed that
constructive social dialogue has always been the strength of Barents
cooperation and people in the region should be an inseparable part of the
Barents policies in the future, as well. As it has been emphasized during the
Swedish Chairmanship of the Barents Euro-Arctic Council, people-to-people
dialogue is the way we face our common challenges and shape our future.