Family Photo with the Russian Barents Governors in Arkhangelsk.
Barents Cooperation needs better visibility
In January 2018 we will be celebrating the 25th Anniversary of signing the Kirkenes Declaration and the 10th Anniversary of establishing the International Barents Secretariat. It is a good time to assess how efficient is this cooperation forum and its structures.
Some efforts were made lately to promote the Barents Cooperation both on the national and the regional levels. The Barents Regional Council adopted in October the first draft of the new Barents Programme 2019-2023 with emphasis on promoting this forum within and outside the region. Earlier a Communication Strategy was prepared to stimulate the information flow about the Barents Cooperation.
This forum is now introduced also to a wider audience on Twitter and Facebook. Active informing about the achieved results and upcoming events and projects through the website and social media are the key elements in promoting the Barents Cooperation. There is no lack of action in the Barents region - from road construction to cultural exchange. The challenge is how to showcase better the added value of this forum and differ from other cooperation networks, for example, the Arctic Cooperation.
What are the development measures in the future? One alternative is to include to the official structure and support the existing networks of young people, sportsmen and journalists, who have been cooperating for a long time. Social media could be utilized better to reach the youngsters.
Vitaly Istomin: "The Milky Way". 1st award winner of the Discover Barents Photo Contest.
One of the good examples of exposing the rich and diverse nature and culture of the region is the Discover Barents Photo Contest held this autumn. Anyone had a chance to upload own picture taken with his or her camera or mobile phone to the website of the competition. Many destinations of the vast Barents region became known and now could be promoted by tourist companies using this new data bank of images.
There has also been positive development in the transport infrastructure of the region. Some of the roads except accessibility may have also symbolic meaning. It happened with the new bridge near the border between Norway and Russia in the end of September. In the opening ceremony there were state secretaries of the two countries but also church representatives who blessed the new bridge, which is now connecting both literally and mentally the two countries and the two nations.
Opening of the new Bøkfjord Bridge near Storskog-Borisoglebsk border crossing point.
One of the events that could increase the visibility of the Barents Cooperation is so called Barents Davos high level meeting, proposed by Russia, that could be held regularly and rotated between Murmansk and Kirkenes. The goal to gather such a summit could be achieved by mutual understanding in negotiations. This event could attract more interest among media. At least there is a good spirit in this cooperation, which could make it possible.
Roman Gokkoev, IBS