Photo/Rauno Jussila: Koli National Park, situated in the middle of North Karelia, covers
30 square kilometres of forested hills on the western shore of Lake
– North Karelian people are joyful by nature; they are easy to get to
know and to get along with. The saying “Joy lives in Karelia” describes
our personality very well, says the Region Mayor Risto Poutiainen.
North Karelia shares 300 kilometres of common border with Russia. The
region has vast areas of forests, lakes and natural resources. The
capital of the region is Joensuu with around 75 000 inhabitants.
– North Karelia is a compact region and it is of adequate size. We
also have a very good cooperation and a development-oriented atmosphere,
which gives us the possibility to create smart and practical solutions –
to almost any problems. We have a Nordic style modern society, but also
space to live on and roam freely. Forests and lakes give us the
quality of live.
The region is internationally well known for the high-level forest
bioeconomy expertise and technology industries, such as Assa Abloy
security locking and John Deere forestry tractor companies.
As in Barents generally, the long distances are a challenge also for North Karelia.
– Sparse population and long distances make it difficult to maintain
services in some parts of the region. The other big challenges for us
are demographics and a too big unemployment rate.
Photo/Rauno Jussila: John Deere is one of the biggest employers in Joensuu.
‘North Karelia has done itself justice in the cooperation with the Barents region’
North Karelia is part of Euregio Karelia, where the regions of North
Ostrobothnia and Kainuu and the Republic of Karelia work together. North
Karelia has been an observer in the regional Barents cooperation for a
long time and has actively taken part in Regional Council and Regional
Committee meetings as well the meetings of working groups, like the
regional working group on transport and logistics.
The region applied for membership in Barents cooperation already in
1997, 2001 and 2008, got observer status in 2008 and finally full
membership of the Regional Council in 2017.
– The membership means a lot to North Karelia, because we think that
we are part of the Barents family. We want to participate and bring our
expertise to forest bioeconomy, renewable energy and tourism development
in the Barents region. We are also interested in working in the
committees of education and research and culture.
– Our enterprises see a lot of potential in the Barents region for
increasing their international business. North Karelian companies and
research and education institutions that are active in these fields are
world-renowned. With the expertise that can be found in the region,
North Karelia could significantly contribute to improving the
competitiveness and vitality of the Barents region. We have also been
very active in working with the European Union in several fields.
Risto Poutiainen hopes that through Barents-cooperation the regions
could better solve the common challenges that the Barents Region and
North Karelia are both facing with regard to e.g. Arctic climate, sparse
population, long distances and demographics.
– What is of utmost importance for us is to take part in the
development of the transport connections, especially air and rail and
road connections. The Petrozavodsk – Niirala/ Värtsilä – Kajaani
transport corridor is our priority, and it has already been included in
the Barents transport plan.
The Karelia and Kolarctic CBC programmes continue to be the central
funding instruments for cooperation in the Barents region. Before the
year 2017 the North Karelia has been the only region that has not been a
member of the Barents Regional Council.
– We think that North Karelia as a neighbor of the Republic of
Karelia and Kainuu is a natural part of the Barents region. And, as one
of the Council members said in the meeting, North Karelia has done
itself justice in the cooperation with Barents region. We are thankful
that all the regions welcomed us to the Barents region.
Photo/Regional Council of North Karelia:
Map of the Barents Region
Interview: Johanna Westerlund