Last Barents Council meeting in Norway was the first in history without attendance of a Russian Foreign Minister. Will Lavrov come for the ministerial meeting in Finland this autumn?
Oulu in northern Finland will host the next Barents Council meeting, a bi-annual meeting place for the Foreign Ministers from the Barents countries, the EU representative and the chair of the Barents Regional Council.
The meeting is the stage where Russia, Norway, Finland and Sweden traditionally highlight the importance of cross-border cooperation in northern Europe.
“As Russia will be the next chairman of the Barents Euro-Arctic Council, we expect that Mr. Lavrov will participate, but of course we do not know it before the autumn,” says Chair of the Committee of Senior Officials in Barents Euro-Arctic Council, Marja-Leena Vuorenpää to BarentsObserver.
Helsinki plans for sending the official invitations during the summer and the confirmations of participation are expected during September. The meeting in Oulu will take place in mid-October.
Finland took over the chair of the Barents Council from Norway in October 2013. At the meeting in Tromsø, Russia was only represented with its Deputy Foreign Minister. It was the first time in the Barents cooperation’s 20-years history that Moscow did not send their Foreign Minister.
Despite cold international climate between east and west, all four member countries have pointed to the fact that the Barents cooperation is a unique structure for friendship and cooperation across the borders in the north. In spring 2013, the Prime Ministers from the Barents countries met for a Summit in Kirkenes and agreed on the text for a new declaration outlining topics important for the members.
Related stories from around the North:
Finland: Finland to participate in NATO crisis management exercises, Yle News
Norway: Peace and stability crucial for Arctic economy, Barents Observer
Sweden: Sweden’s government scared of NATO facts: Moderates Party, Radio Sweden
United States: U.S. needs Arctic military strategy says defense secretary, Alaska Public Radio Network