MPs from Finland, Norway, Russia, Sweden and the European Parliament will be meeting online on Tuesday 22nd June for the 10th Barents Parliamentary Conference to discuss developments in the High North. President of the Storting Tone W. Trøen will be delivering the conference’s opening address, while Aili Keskitalo (President of the Sámi Parliament) and Ine Eriksen Søreide (chair of the Barents Euro-Arctic Council) will also be speaking.
Pillar in the High North
The priority for Barents cooperation is people-to-people contact and collaboration between those who live in the north of Finland, Norway, Russia and Sweden.
“The Barents cooperation is a pillar of regional collaboration with our neighbours in the North. It provides the political framework for good and stable relations with Russia,” explains Eirik Sivertsen MP (Labour Party).
Mr Sivertsen adds that it has played an important role in building trust across the old dividing lines in the Arctic.
“It has also been hugely significant for collaboration between the indigenous peoples in the Barents Region,” he says.
Health partnerships and the voices of youth
The conference will also direct the spotlight on such diverse issues as Barents cooperation from a youth perspective, innovative sustainable development in the region, biodiversity and land use, and health partnerships.
Bente Stein Mathisen MP (Conservative Party) points out that the COVID-19 pandemic has illustrated how vulnerable society is and the importance of cross-border cooperation and people-to-people contact.
“With the end of the pandemic in sight, it’s vital that we open the borders in the North as soon as it is safe to do so, so that cooperation and ties can be re-established,” she says.
One of the MPs’ responsibilities during the conference is to adopt a resolution that will map out the road ahead for Barents cooperation.
The initial plan was for this year’s conference to be held in Kirkenes, but it will now be conducted digitally. You can follow the conference online here.
More about the Barents cooperation
- The Barents cooperation was formally set up in the Kirkenes Declaration of 1993.
- The cooperation takes place at an interstate level through the Barents Euro-Arctic Council (BEAC).
- Interregional activities are conducted through the Barents Regional Council (BRC).
- BEAC’s member states are Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, Russia, Sweden and the EU Commission. There are a further nine observer states.
Conference resolution (pdf)