Newsletter by International Barents Secretariat, 3/2015

Dear Readers,

hallberg kuva - 200.jpgThe Russian national chairmanship in the BEAC did not wait long before they started to implement their program for the coming two years. After just a few weeks, the invitation to the first ministerial meeting popped up in the mailbox. Sortavala in Karelia was chosen as a meeting point of environment ministers. In the invitation, a lot of travelling options were listed. None of them was quick and easy. Going from Kirkenes, I would have to spend at least three days travelling to and from the conference, whatever option I would use.
I have learned during my first year at the office that there are many places in the Barents Region that are considered remote. There are people who look at Kirkenes in that way. However, if you just turn the map around, you will see it differently.

After a discussion with myself about a four-day trip for a one-day meeting I finally booked my tickets. The first stage of the journey was by plane. I left in the morning from Kirkenes airport to catch a connecting flight from Oslo to Helsinki and arrived in Joensuu at 00.30. The day after a minibus picked us up for transportation to Russia. Here actually the first “meeting” started. There were eleven of us in the bus. Participants from four different countries, some of us knew each other from before and some were newcomers. Five hours in a bus gives you time to discuss a lot of different topics and to get to know each other. I got a chance to ask plenty of questions and to talk about what we are doing at the office.

The trip to the border control in Vartsila did not take long. Discussion about the similarities and differences with the border area between Russia and Norway took place. The quality of the roads on both sides of the border was also compared. How many border crossings are there per year? What about the trade?

On the way to Sortavala we made a stop at the Ruskeala Marble Canyon. At the spot of an old marble mine an adventure park for tourists was constructed. It looks like a mix of a museum and an amusement park. More than 100 000 visitors per year is not a bad figure for a small town. A discussion about other ways of attracting tourists continued.

The next stop was Winter Dacha, a venue of the ministerial meeting. A beautiful newly built resort at the Ladoga Lake. It immediately became clear why our hosts had chosen this place. In my head, two Swedish sayings popped up: The trip is worth the effort and the journey is the goal.

So what was decided at the environment ministers meeting? You can read more about that in the current edition of the BarentSaga. You also have the chance to learn more about the Barents Rescue operation in Kittilä which was arranged last autumn. Besides, we will offer you an interview with IBS new adviser on Climate, Environment and Hot Spots, Maria Dianova. The outgoing Finnish chairmanship will tell about their experience and have a special report on the ad hoc working group on Finance. Least but not last, you can learn about Ingrid Medby´s research on Arctic identity.

I wish you all very nice holidays, enjoy your reading!

Tomas Hallberg
Head of the International Barents Secretariat

Arctic Identity - what does that mean?

Medby_picture_thumb.jpg“Arctic identity” is an often-heard concept in contemporary discussions throughout the Arctic region. But what do people mean by it, and is there one single Arctic identity? BarentSaga interviewed Ingrid Medby, a Norwegian researcher who is writing her PhD dissertation about the topic in the Department of Geography at Durham University.


A look into the Finnish chairmanship

Vuorenpaa-barentsaga-thumb-.jpgFrom autumn 2013 to autumn 2015 Finland was the chair country of the Barents Euro-Arctic Council. A key person during this time was the Barents Ambassador of Finland, Ms. Marja-Leena Vuorenpää from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Finland. In our interview she tells about the chairmanship period to the readers of BarentSaga.


How to finance Barents cooperation?

Rahoitus_thumbnail.jpgOne of the biggest projects in the Barents cooperation in the last two years was an 80-page report “Financing Barents Cooperation”, compiled by a multinational ad hoc Working Group on Financial Mechanism and Foreign Ministry officials of the BEAC chair country Finland. Here we present a deeper look in the job done by the Working Group and the findings of the report.


Barents Rescue: Cross-border assistance for major accidents

rescue-thumb.jpgSince 2001, the rescue administrations of the Barents region have been practicing together in major rescue exercises. The latest exercise took place this autumn.


12th Meeting of the Environment Ministers: new priorities of the Barents environmental cooperation

Ministers-thumb-2015.jpg12th Meeting of the Environment Ministers under the Barents Euro-Arctic Council took place in Sortavala, Russia on 24-25 November 2015. The meeting was attended by senior officials of Finland, Norway, Russia and Sweden, as well as representatives of indigenous peoples, regional bodies, environmental organizations and other invited guests.


Barents Profile: Maria Dianova

Dianova-thumb.jpgThe new Climate, Environment and Hot Spot Adviser of International Barents Secretariat is Maria Dianova. She succeeds Tuuli Ojala, who moved from Kirkenes to St. Petersburg to work there in the Finnish Consulate General.


Links and tips to Barents:

Coming events:    

The International Barents Secretariat

Tomas Hallberg, Head of Secretariat
IBS Staff


Thank you for your contribution to this issue of BarentSaga: Maria Dianova, Tomas Hallberg, Maija Myllylä, Ilkka Tiensuu and Arto Vitikka.

BarentSaga is published by the International Barents Secretariat and the Arctic Centre, University of Lapland. 

Contributions to BarentSaga are welcome, please contact Arto Vitikka / Arctic Centre.


Barents Euro-Arctic Council official website 2016