In Oulu, Timo gave the Barents gavel to Sergey
All Barents eyes were turned to Oulu and its magnificent City Hall on 14th and 15th October as the Barents Euro-Arctic Council gathered to its 15th ministerial meeting. Russian foreign minister Sergey Lavrov flew in for a five-hour visit to mark Russia´s commitment to the Barents cooperation. He was hosted by Finnish foreign minister Timo Soini. As a sign of their good contact, the ministers called each other by their first names.
“BEAC's activities are, without an exaggeration, a history of success. We have managed to create a zone of confidence and stability in Northern Europe, based on the principles of indivisible and comprehensive security and is not affected by fluctuations of the political environment”, Lavrov stated in his speech.
The host of the event, Timo Soini brought up the two-level structure of the Barents cooperation: “Concrete regional initiatives and solutions are essential in addressing the global challenges. This is a question of political will, new ideas and visionary women and men that are willing to go that extra mile for a better future for the next generation. In short women and men like you here tonight”, he told to the dinner audience before handing over the chairmanship gavel to minister Lavrov.
The Russian chairmanship program was presented already in late September in Helsinki during the 7th Barents Parliamentary conference. The principles of the Russian chairmanship will be: "Trust, Transparency, and Tradition". According to Mr. Sergey Petrovich, the Barents Ambassador of the Russian Federation, Russia will continue the work on many of the areas the Finnish chairmanship prioritized and will place a particular emphasis on cooperation in the fields of economy, environment and tourism. Russia will also pay attention to indigenous peoples’ opportunities to participate in the Barents cooperation.
Also at the Parliamentary conference Ms. Marja-Leena Vuorenpää, Barents Ambassador of Finland, presented the priority areas and projects launched during the Finnish chairmanship. The priorities have been economic cooperation, transport and logistics, environment and climate change as well as youth cooperation.
”Our motto has been dynamic, inclusive and sustainable regional development. During our chairmanship the spirit in the Barents cooperation has been constructive and tangible results have been reached”, minister Soini summed up in his speech at the Oulu ministerial meeting.
Minister Lavrov wanted to specially commend the activities of the BEAC Ad Hoc Working Group under Finnish Chairmanship to investigate the possibility of establishing a financing mechanism in the Barents region to support project activities. “Really extensive work to assess sources of financing cooperation in the region has been done. As a result, a detailed report was published recently which can be classified as some sort of an encyclopedia of financial mechanisms of Northern Europe. Although the experts have concluded that the financial resources available in the region for funding project activities are sufficient, we believe that the issue of establishing our own mechanism to support projects in the Barents Region should remain on the agenda”, said Lavrov.
Oulu ministerial meeting also marked the chairmanship change at the Regional Council from Archangelsk region to the Finnish region of Kainuu. In its next issues, BarentSaga will return to the achievements of the previous chairmanships and focus more closely on the priorities of the new chairs both on the Barents EuroArctic Council and Barents Regional Council.
Oulu ministerial Communique
Statement by Sergey Lavrov at the Oulu ministerial meeting
Speech by Timo Soini at the Oulu ministerial meeting