Minister of Foreign Affairs Ine Eriksen Søreide is today taking part in the Barents Euro-Arctic Council Foreign Ministers’ Session in Umeå, Sweden. At the meeting, Norway will take over the Chairmanship of the Council from Sweden, for the period 2019-2021. The Norwegian Chairmanship’s priority areas will be health, people-to-people contact, and knowledge.
‘I would like to thank Sweden for the important work it has done during its Chairmanship. The Barents cooperation is a good example of the kind of well-functioning international cooperation that we need to see more of. By working together on specific projects, we can address common challenges,’ said Ms Eriksen Søreide.
Norway will emphasise the importance of the regions as key drivers of the Barents cooperation.
‘We will listen to actors in the region and maintain close contact with those who are working on Barents projects on a daily basis. Cross-border contact between our peoples in the north is at the heart of the Barents cooperation,’ said Ms Eriksen Søreide.
The Arctic is the Government’s most important area of strategic responsibility. Norway attaches importance to engaging in dialogue with other Arctic states with a view to addressing common challenges in the region.
‘The region is one of cooperation and stability, and the Arctic Council and the Barents Euro-Arctic Council play an important role in ensuring that this remains the case,’ said Ms Eriksen Søreide.
A healthy population is essential for building strong communities in the north. On 12 November, the first ever Barents Ministerial Meeting on Health and Social Issues will be held in Oslo, as one of the initiatives under the Norwegian Chairmanship. Climate change is also an issue of key importance for the Barents Euro-Arctic Council.
‘The effects of climate change are particularly noticeable in the Barents region. The Norwegian Chairmanship will work with researchers and civil society to highlight the importance of a knowledge-based approach to reducing greenhouse gas emissions in the region,’ said Ms Eriksen Søreide.
The work of the Norwegian Chairmanship will be led by Barents Adviser Gøril Johansen in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
About the Barents cooperation:
The Barents cooperation has two main pillars: intergovernmental cooperation (the Barents Euro-Arctic Council) and regional cooperation (the Barents Regional Council). This makes the structure of the Barents cooperation unique. The Barents cooperation covers a number of areas, including the environment, health and social issues, indigenous peoples, education and research, infrastructure, the business sector, emergency preparedness, security, and people-to-people contact. The members of the Barents Euro-Arctic Council are Norway, Sweden, Finland, Denmark, Iceland, Russia, and the European Commission. Indigenous peoples are represented at all meetings. Västerbotten county will hold the Chairmanship of the Barents Regional Council during Norway’s Chairmanship of the Barents Euro-Arctic Council.
Press contact: Marte Kopstad, +47 995 22 026