Finland’s  chairmanship of Barents Euro-Arctic Council  brought to an end succesfully

Finland’s two-year chairmanship of the Barents Euro-Arctic Council (BEAC) for the period 2013–2015 had a fine ending when Minister for Foreign Affairs Timo Soini handed over the chairmanship gavel to the next chairman, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, at the Foreign Ministers’ Meeting of the Barents Euro-Arctic Council held in Oulu on 14–15 October. At the same time, the chairmanship of the Barents Regional Council passed from Arkhangelsk to Kainuu.

Soini ja Lavrov. Kuva: Juha Sarkkinen
Foreign Minister  Timo Soini and Russian Foreign Minister  Sergey Lavrov met in Oulu on 14 October 2015. At the end of their bilateral discussions, Minister Soini passed the baton of the BEAC chairmanship to Minister Lavrov . Picture: Juha Sarkkinen

The members of the Barents Euro-Arctic Council are all the Nordic countries, Russia and the EU. In addition to the Foreign Ministers of Finland and Russia, the meeting in Oulu was attended by Foreign Minister Børge Brende of Norway, Foreign Minister Gunnar Bragi Sveinsson of Iceland, Minister for Nordic Cooperation Kristina Persson of Sweden, Secretary of State Lone Dencker Wisborg of Denmark and Helen Campbell, Head of Delegation of the European Union to Norway. The meeting was also attended by representatives of the Barents Regional Council and representatives of key stakeholders in Barents cooperation.

BEAC_Oulu_heads. Kuva: Juha Sarkkinen
Finland’s Chairmanship culminated in the Ministerial Meeting of the BEAC in Oulu in mid-October. From the left Helen Campbell, Lone Dencker Wisborg, Borge Brende, Timo Soini, Sergey Lavrov, Kristina Persson, Gunnar Bragi Sveinsson. Picture: Juha Sarkkinen.

Finland’s term proceeded well despite the international situation

Finland’s BEAC Chairmanship 2013–2015 progressed constructively despite the challenging international political situation.

The concrete achievements of Finland’s chairmanship were, among others, a review of the financing of Barents cooperation, the securing of financing for the Working Group of Indigenous Peoples, the identification of road network development needs in the Barents Region and the implementation of Exercise Barents Rescue in Kittilä.

Finland’s chairmanship also emphasised opportunities for young people to participate in creating the future of the Barents Region. During the chairmanship term, Finland strove to respond to the challenges of climate change by accelerating the implementation of the Barents Action Plan on Climate Change.

Finland’s chairmanship of the BEAC was based on close cooperation with the Governments of the BEAC countries, regional and local actors, civil society and, in particular, with representatives of indigenous peoples in order to strengthen the common Barents identity.

Finland promoted the coherence of regional cooperation between the BEAC, the Arctic Council, the Council of Baltic Sea States and the Northern Dimension with the aim of increasing synergy and efficiency. In addition, Finland encouraged the Barents working groups to engage in closer cooperation.

Laura Quist

northern dimension