This is the road towards more cooperation, transport ministries say
The sanctions, which hamper regional trade and economic relations, were not on the agenda when top transport representatives of the Barents countries and the EU Commission this week met in Arkhangelsk, Russia, for discussions on infrastructure cooperation.
The meeting in the Steering Committee for the Barents Euro-Arctic Transport Area (BEATA) on the contrary outlined a string of ambitions for more cooperation.
«It is very important not to halt interaction, but to look for new possibilities which will allow us to unveil the potentials of this unique region», Russian Transport Minister Maksim Sokolov said.
Deputy Minister Sergey Aristov added to those words that «we intend to continue to develop a transport system in the Barents region, which not only meets the needs of mutual trade […] but also facilitates the increased mobility of the population, extended humanitarian contacts, tourism and ultimately an enhanced level of general welfare for the Barents countries», a press release from the ministry reads.
All four Barents countries; Finland, Norway, Russia and Sweden were represented in the meeting along with representatives of the EU Commission and host region Arkhangelsk.
Also the International Barents Secretariat, the support body for the Barents Cooperation, was at the table.
«It was a very good atmosphere in the meeting», Secretariat leader Thomas Hallberg says to the Barents Observer. The meeting included discussions on the Northern Sea Route, the GLONASS system, as well east-west flight connections and a possible 72-hour visa free regime for cruise tourists in Murmansk and Arkhangelsk.
On top of the BEATA agenda is now a regional action plan for transportation. All the four countries are now preparing their input to the plan which subsequently will be addressed in an upcoming meeting in November, Hallberg says.