The main objective of the Russian Chairmanship of the Barents Euro-Arctic Council BEAC in 2015–2017 is to promote the sustainable social and economic development of the North, create better life conditions for the peoples of the region, build modern infrastructure, enhance the competitiveness of the region and improve the investment climate.
The first BEAC CSO Meeting under the Russian Chairmanship was held in Moscow on December 16–17, 2015. Photo by @Russia_in_BEAC in Twitter.
The Barents region of Russia covers more than 1.5 million square kilometers of the territory of the Russian Federation, including the Republic of Karelia and Komi Republic, Arkhangelsk oblast, Murmansk oblast and Nenets Autonomous Okrug (District). Hence, Barents cooperation plays an important role for Russia.
– The Russian North possesses rich experience and at the same time big potential in various fields of (Barents) cooperation. It is extremely rich in natural resources, has vast transport and logistics networks and a highly developed industrial basis. Our northern regions have much to offer in terms of culture and tourism. Another big asset is the highly educated labor force and advanced high school institutions, Sergey Petrovich, the Deputy Director and the Chairman of the Committee of Senior Officials of the BEAC, states.
In cooperation with Kainuu Region, which holds the Chairmanship of the Barents Regional Council, Russia continues the intergovernmental cooperation on issues concerning the Barents Region.
– Needless to say, facilitating sustainable socio-economic development and improving the life quality of the people living here remain the BEAC’s most important goals. They can only be achieved by joining efforts, sharing experience, knowledge and advanced technologies.
Logistics, environment, culture and tourism in focus
The key priorities of the Russian Chairmanship of the Barents Euro-Arctic Council in 2015-2017 are transport and logistics, environment and climate, culture and tourism. Thus, Russia will continue the work of Finland, the Chairman of the BEAC in 2013–2015, for better connections and a sustainable environment.
– We believe that that new routes including the Northern Sea Route as the shortest way between Northern Europe and Asia-Pacific Region would contribute to increasing the trade and economic cooperation of the Barents Region states. In this respect, we are now working on the adoption of the Joint Barents Transport Plan aiming at establishing robust and safe cross-border corridors involving the use of rail, road and sea traffic. We also see the need to establish convenient and reliable East-West air and ferry connections in the European North, says Petrovich.
Environment and climate cooperation is another key topic of the Russian Chairmanship.
– To ensure environmental protection in the Barents region we should increase our efforts against man-made pollution, in particular through joint projects aiming at reducing the number of Barents environmental “hot spots”, collaboration in water resources conservation, clean production and ecologically sustainable consumption, together with ecological enlightenment and dissemination of the best environmental practices.
– We also expect the start of implementation of the second phase of the Barents Protected Area Network Project (BPAN). We shall continue implementing the BEAC Climate Change Action Plan.
Promoting “the Barents Brand”
During the Chairmanship, Russia aims to promote cultural and creative industries as a tool for the dynamic social and economic development of the Barents Euro-Arctic region.
– We will pay attention to the issues of cultural diversity, cultural exchanges and multicultural dialogue with a view to support cross-border mobility and encourage people-to-people contacts. The Russian Chairmanship is focusing on preserving cultural and ethno-cultural heritage in the Barents region, strengthening Barents identity and promoting ‘the Barents brand’. We intend to continue the work to establish the Barents Culture Scholarship.
– Another important issue is creating favorable conditions for ecologically, socially and culturally sustainable tourism in the Barents region and strengthening cooperation in the tourism industries. A project to extend a ferry line Bergen–Kirkenes operated by the Norwegian company Hurtigruten to include Murmansk, Arkhangelsk and the Solovetsky Islands may give a major boost to the increase of tourist flows in the Barents Region.
Interview by Johanna Westerlund
The Barents Euro-Arctic Council (BEAC) is the forum for intergovernmental cooperation on issues concerning the Barents Region. The BEAC meets at Foreign Ministers level in the chairmanship country at the end of the term of office. The chairmanship rotates every second year, between Norway, Finland, Russia and Sweden.