Barents Review 2012
The historical agreement on the delimitation of the Barents Sea resolved the single most complicated issue in Norwegian-Russian relations. After more than forty years of usettled border relations, the 175.000 square kilometer big area, one of the richest in the world in terms of fish resources, and perhaps also hydrocarbon reserves, was split into two equally big parts. The signing and subsequent ratification of the border deal made the years 2010 and 2011 groundbreaking in Norwegian-Russian relations.
However, a wide range of new and complex challenges is on the horizon. Norway and Russia today stand in front of new territories, not only in terms of geography, but also of policy priorities and cooperation.
The years 2010 and 2011 were also a period where Norway and Russia agreed to establish a local visa-free zone in their border areas. The local border traffic agreement, the first of its kind signed by Russia, will open the border municipalities of Sør-Varanger and Perchenga for visa-free traveling.
Over the next years, relations between Norway and Russia will to a significant extent move along the lines of the two new agreements. How should regional and national decision-makers approach the new times?
This is one of the questions asked in this year´s Barents Review. The publication written by staff members of the Norwegian Barents Secretariat, is devoted to borderland development and cross-border cooperation and is titled “Barents Borders”. This year´s edition includes a number of concrete policy recommendations.
More political cooperation
The contributors to the Barents Review call for a strengthening of elected political structures and civil society in the region. They also call for a strengthening of the Barents Cooperation structures, and especially the Barents Regional Council, and argue that representantatives of the Council should be included in all polical processes of major relevance for cross-border cooperation.
The book also proposes to establish a Barents Parliamentary Forum, a platform for contact and interaction between the elected regional legislative assemblies.
The Barents Review 2012 calls for the establishment of a cross-border cooperation fund, based on a share of the revenues generated from potential cross-border hydrocarbon fields. The authors also argue that Norway and Russia should seek to develop joint cross-border infrastructure and industrial facilities both at sea and on land, and that joint and cross-border environmental management regimes should be established in the Barents Sea.
A number of measures should be taken to facilitate cross-border travelling, among them the introduction of expanded opening hours at the Norwegian-Russian border checkpoint. Procedures and the use of technology should be harmonized on all Schengen border checkpoints.
All young people under 20 years of age should be granted visa-free traveling
The authors especially call for the Russian side to measure to ease visa requirements and proposes that Russia introduces a visa similar to the Norwegian Pomor visa.
The book also highlights the important role of the media and stresses that journalists must be given easy access to local sites, events and data.
The “Barents Borders” is the second edition of the Barents Review. The first edition was published in 2010.
This year´s publication has chapters touching on issues of political development, energy, cross-border traveling, youth cooperation and project cooperation, and military relations.
Article from BarentsObserver.com