Foreign Minister Soini’s Statement at the BEAC Dinner

Foreign Minister Timo Soini’s Statement at the Barents Euro-Arctic Council (BEAC) Dinner 14 October 2015.

[Check Against Delivery]

Excellences, dear Colleagues, dear guests,

Let me start by expressing my gratitude to the City of Oulu – a city celebrating its 410 years anniversary this year - for hosting us today in these beautiful and historical premises of the Oulu City Hall. 

I am very pleased that we have such a diverse group of Barents stakeholders here tonight. This meeting is a true demonstration of what Barents cooperation really means: Governmental and regional actors working together with representatives of the European Union and the Indigenous peoples for a common goal.

For over 20 years Barents cooperation has promoted sustainable development and stability in the Barents region and in Europe as a whole. 

The distinct feature of the Barents cooperation is its two-level structure:

This is a forum for exchange of views and concrete cooperation between governmental and regional actors.  But it is also a forum for people- to- people teamwork. And at all levels we can strengthen our common Barents identity.

We must make sure that this format of cooperation will be fully exploited in the future. I believe this kind of cooperation will be even more important in the years to come. Concrete regional initiatives and solutions are essential in addressing the global challenges.  This is a question of political will, new ideas and visionary women and men that are willing to work that extra mile for a better future for the next generation. In short women and men like you here tonight.

Ladies and gentlemen,

I am happy to note that with your support we have achieved many concrete results during the Finnish BEAC chairmanship. Let me mention three:

  • Joint study on financing of Barents cooperation.

  • Agreement on the support to the Barents Working Group of Indigenous Peoples.

  • Analysis on the state of Cross-border Road Corridors in the Barents region.

The possibility to use financing from the EU-Russia Cross-border cooperation programmes and EU Interreg programmes  has helped Barents actors to implement much needed projects  for example in economic, environment and culture sectors.

Like all good things - the Finnish two-year chairmanship is coming to an end – too soon I would say. But while I am sad for my own part, I am at the same time happy that I can pass this important job for the steady and capable hands of my Russian colleague. We trust that under your leadership the next two years will become an active and thriving period of cooperation.

Before handing formally over the gavel I will give the floor to the next BEAC chairman, Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov.  Sergei please the floor is yours.

arktinen alue