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Historical archive

New Kirkenes Declaration on cooperation in the Barents region

Historical archive

Published under: Stoltenberg's 2nd Government

Publisher Ministry of Foreign Affairs

Under the leadership of Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg, the Barents Summit in Kirkenes has adopted a new declaration, 20 years after the start of the Barents cooperation. People-to-people cooperation remains at the core of the Barents cooperation, but the new declaration also places greater emphasis on economic cooperation and the environment.

Under the leadership of Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg, the Barents Summit in Kirkenes has adopted a new declaration, 20 years after the start of the Barents cooperation. People-to-people cooperation remains at the core of the Barents cooperation, but the new declaration also places greater emphasis on economic cooperation and the environment. 

The first Kirkenes Declaration was signed in 1993 and opened the way for cooperation across borders that had previously been closed. The new declaration points out that local initiatives have been essential to the success of the Barents cooperation, and that it is still the peoples of the region who play the key role in the cooperation. 

The declaration sets out that efforts to make border crossings more efficient for both goods and persons will be continued, and that the goal is visa-free travel. This will continue to promote confidence-building between the countries at local, regional and national levels. The treaty on maritime delimitation with Russia is an example of the results that can be achieved by building confidence in this way.  

The new declaration also emphasises the need for improved transport networks in the Barents region, in particular the further development of east–west transport networks. Following an initiative by Norway, work has begun on a joint transport plan for the Barents region as a whole. 

The declaration emphasises the importance of cooperation on business development, but it also stresses the need to protect the environment. It is made clear that the traditional knowledge of indigenous peoples can contribute to the sustainable development of resources, and that indigenous peoples must continue to play an active role in the development of the region. 

The prime ministers and high-level representatives also express concern over the impact of climate change that is already visible in the region, and they refer to the Barents Euro-Artic Council’s Climate Change Action Plan that is currently being drawn up. 

The declaration advocates the further development of cooperation in the fields of education and research. It also emphasises the crucial role played by civil society actors, particularly NGOs, youth organisations and the media, in a range of areas. 

Read the whole declaration here. (pdf)

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