Brainstorming on Kirkenes II started
The Norwegian MFA has started to collect ideas for the Declaration that will be on the table when the Prime Ministers of the Barents member states meet June 3-4, 2013, in Kirkenes to mark the 20th Anniversary of the Barents Cooperation.
Mr Sverre Jervel from the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs visited Kirkenes recently to meet with Cecilie Hansen, leader of the Norwegian border municipality Sør-Varanger Kommune, with the Barents Institute, the Norwegian Barents Secretariat, and the International Barents Secretariat, to discuss the content of the Declaration and the practical preparation for the Prime Ministers' visit next year. Mr Jervel then continued to meet with business organizations in Finnmark.
Mr Jervel reminded of how different everything is today compared to back in 1992-93 when he was involved in the preparations of launching the Cooperation. We simply had very little knowledge and bringing the regions together in direct cooperation crossing national borders was something completely new. Now it is clear that the development of the Cooperation has been positive in very many ways. That the cross-border people-to-people cooperation and the structures of the Barents Cooperation are well developed and the Delimitation Agreement between Norway and Russia has been signed are some of the positive facts that we can take stock of when setting out the priorities for the future of the Cooperation. Right now there is a golden opportunity for all to generate ideas shaping the Barents Cooperation in the years to come, stressed Mr Jervel.
It seems that there is a great interest for the Declaration as recent information on the North Norwegian radio generated 40 phone calls to Mr Jervel. He will collect ideas for the Kirkenes II Declaration until August 15 when the drafting will start. In the meantime there is a parallell process in the Barents Regional Committee which will discuss the Declaration in the next meeting June 13.
It is so far clear that the Declaration will contain environment and climate related issues but Mr Jervel also says that there are plans on highligting the importance of coming leaders bringing together young Barents residents at a Barents Summer University.
The Ministers will decide if this will be a legally binding document similar to the Declaration of 1993 or if it will have the character of a common political statement.
Written by Anna Lund,
International Barents Secretariat