On 2 November, the Norwegian Minister of Foreign Affairs, Jonas Gahr Støre, hosted the Second Ministerial Meeting of the Northern Dimension, an arena for cooperation in the north.
“People-to-people cooperation is a key aspect of both the Barents and the Baltic Sea cooperation, whereas the Northern Dimension has implemented a number of major projects in the Baltic Sea and Barents regions. In our health cooperation, we aim to promote good health and quality of life, and we are given particular priority to cooperation on lifestyle-related health problems, prison healthcare and infectious diseases, such as tuberculosis,” said Mr Støre.
The Foreign Ministers also agreed on the future priorities for two new partnerships: one on transport and logistics, and one on culture. Norway will lead the work on transport and logistics in 2011.
“The new partnerships should be up and running in the near future. They will pave the way for cooperation in new areas. Norway will prioritise transport and logistics, with particular focus on the maritime sector and important cross-border corridors and projects, both short-term, small-scale projects, and larger, more long-term and future-oriented projects, such as the Northern Sea Route and the Northern East–West Freight Corridor,” said Mr Gahr Støre.
Other areas of cooperation are energy efficiency and alternative energy, scientific cooperation, and business cooperation.
The Northern Dimension is a cooperation between four equal partners – Norway, the EU, Russia and Iceland – and the regional cooperation organisations and international financial institutions. The areas covered by this cooperation are: northwestern Russia, the Barents region, the Baltic Sea region and the Arctic and sub-Arctic areas.
The EU was presented at the meeting by the Finnish Minister of Foreign Affairs, Alexander Stubb, and Foreign Ministers Sergei Lavrov and Össur Skarphédinsson represented Russia and Iceland respectively. Foreign Minister Carl Bildt from Sweden also took part. Denmark, Poland, Lithuania and Estonia were also represented at political level. Representative of the various partnerships and initiatives, regional cooperation organisations and a number of international financial institutions also participated.
In connection with the meeting, Foreign Ministers Støre and Lavrov signed a bilateral agreement on local border traffic and presented a joint statement on enhanced cross-border cooperation.
The Northern Dimension is not intended to replace the other regional cooperation organisations, but works in close coordination with them.
“Regional cooperation in the north is a mainstay of our High North efforts,” Mr Støre said.