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Northern Dimension

The Minister of Foreign Affairs Espen Barth Eide based his remarks on the following points:

Introduction

  • High North is my Government’s top priority. Regional cooperation is an integral part. The Northern Dimension has unique features that compliment other regional structures in the North.
  • Result-oriented partnerships are the backbone of the Northern Dimension. Projects under the partnerships are of great importance for people living in the Northern Dimension area.
  • The Northern Dimension is forceful. We have a broad and forward-looking agenda. Regional and cross-border cooperation is at the core.
  • The Northern dimension is a constructive meeting place between the EU, EU countries, Russia, Norway and Iceland. Norway wants to be an active partner and continues the financial contribution.


The four partnerships are producing tangible results:

I The partnership on Public Health and Social Well-being
(NDPHS)

  • Impressive work – relevant to the peoples of the north - on contagious diseases and on lifestyle related health problems. Norway takes active part in expert groups.

To Sweden:

  • Pleased the host country agreement secretariat is signed. Now pending ratification by the Swedish parliament. Looking forward to continued good cooperation.


To Russia:

  • Appreciate active Russian contribution to the health partnership, especially on non-communicable-diseases. Norway and Russia collaborate closely in the expert group on alcohol and substance abuse. Have many of the same challenges and can learn from each other.

To the EU:

  • Positive the partnership is lead partner on health under the EU Baltic Sea Strategy. Share same health priorities. Good way of collaborating. Creates synergies.

II The Environmental Partnership (NDEP) tool for high priority environmental projects in the ND area. Might be funding mechanisms model for other Northern Dimension activity as well.

  • Share concern for serious environmental situation in the Baltic Sea. Welcome greater emphasis on energy efficiency and use of renewables. Links the Northern Dimension to crucially important efforts to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases. Underpinning Russia’s efforts to implement strategy on energy efficiency.
  • Important projects implemented in all parts of the Northern Dimension area. Content projects beginning to appear in the northern part of North West Russia.
  • Should explore potential of NDEP mechanism for facilitating other high priority projects of Baltic and Barents Councils. Example: Elimination of pollution “hot spots” in the Barents Region.
  • Nuclear window priority for Norway. Can play even more import role. Increased our contribution to reduce spent nuclear fuel last two years: To speed up good work and help support remaining projects directly linked to spent nuclear fuel at Andreeva Bay, which we regard as the greatest remaining challenge in the ND area.

III The partnership on Transport and Logistics (NDPTL) could be new flagship. The maritime aspect of the partnership should be given due attention.

  • Many bottlenecks to address, important for the everyday lives of people and businesses. Therefore glad partnership’s Regional Transport Network is adopted. Important system connecting the Northern Dimension countries by rail, road, sea and air.
  • Important agreement on Fund rules. Makes partnership operational. First donor assembly in Helsinki. Norway is a donor.
  • We are pleased that the secretariat is up and running. It is vital for success of the partnership.

IV The partnership on Culture (NDPC). Still in early stages. Securing finance is important.

  • In place an action plan, secretariat, on-going projects and creative project ideas involving business partners. Cultural tourism and creative industries could be developed. Promising cooperation between partnership and the Business Council.
  • Should be seen in conjunction with efforts of the EU (Creative Europe), Barents Council, Nordic Council of Ministers and the Baltic region. Mutually beneficial and important to achieving synergies.
  • Norway supports the secretariat at Nordic Council of Ministers. Location from 2014 must be determined.

Indigenous people

  • The Northern Dimension is home to several indigenous peoples. Important to facilitate participation of indigenous peoples in various processes in a proactive manner and in line with their own priorities. Encourage indigenous peoples to make full use of the opportunities open to them. Key areas are adaptation to climate change and the use of traditional knowledge. 

Other Northern Dimension forums

  • I am impressed by the Business Council’s work. Nine working groups cover most important aspects of economic cooperation. Hope to see more companies join - also more Norwegian - especially small and medium sized enterprises. We need voice and advice of the business community.
  • The Northern Dimension Institute is a valuable arrangement. Knowledge is the basis of our work. Need strong focus on research and education. Norway has funded research projects by the Institute. Hope to see financial solution for the institute. 

Conclusion

  • What we try to achieve is integration, transparent borders, free trade, social and economic development, cultural exchanges, knowledge and education.
  • I am confident our partnerships ­will be effective tools for the creation of the Northern Europe of the future.

*****

Address as Chair of the Barents Euro-Arctic Council (BEAC)

  • All four Northern Dimension partners are full members of the Barents Euro-Arctic Council. Prime Minister Stoltenberg invited his Barents colleagues to Kirkenes in June to mark the 20th anniversary of Barents cooperation. Declaration will reflect priorities for future cooperation.
  • It has a great potential. The Barents region is becoming increasingly important to the rest of Europe.
  • Today 13 regions in Finland, Norway, Russia and Sweden are members of the Barents Regional Council. They are developing cross-border neighbourhood policies. Fast increasing people-to-people contact and regional involvement has helped create trust between neighbours that had been adversaries during the cold war.
  • Broad cultural cooperation is at the core. This can help develop cross-border economic and business relations. But the potential is not yet fully exploited. Hopefully Russian WTO membership can help. However, there are reasons for optimism: The Barents region is rich in natural resources like oil and gas, fish and seafood, forests, minerals and human capital.
  • The petroleum sector will offer great opportunities, and mining may lead to more cooperation. Improved transport networks will reap economic potentials. We are preparing the first Barents Transport Plan. Full transparency and coordination with the Northern Dimension transport partnership.
  • Coastal infrastructure is a priority. Will support facilities from increased activities at sea. Will create new business opportunities, including the prospects of the Northern Sea Route.
  • The Norwegian chairmanship priority is environmentally safe and climate friendly development, based on scientific knowledge. Corporate social responsibility and high ethical standards are part of this agenda. We are working on action plan for climate change.
  • The important role of indigenous peoples was recognized in the first Kirkenes Declaration. It is essential to take indigenous peoples rights and interests into account, not least as economic activities are growing. This must be reflected in the new Kirkenes declaration.
  • People-to-people contact is the true foundation of the Barents cooperation and is probably its greatest success story.
  • Thank you.

*****

 

 

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