Keep all pathways open for potential encounters. I believe that this Sami saying encapsulates the spirit of life in the Barents region: how positive interactions between humans and nature make life better. These interactions in our Nordic region and between our countries have persisted for centuries. The current challenge of climate change is making such interactions and cooperation more necessary than ever.
During the Swedish Chairmanship of the Barents Euro-Arctic Council (BEAC), we will pursue an agenda based on sustainable development, respect for human rights and gender equality. In each of these areas, the emphasis will lie on enhancing people-to-people contacts, especially for the younger generation. The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Paris Climate Agreement will provide the basis for our work.
Barents cooperation is unique, with stakeholders at national, regional and local levels, including societies of indigenous peoples. The Swedish Chairmanship will work with stakeholders at all levels to achieve the best possible results.
In 2018 Barents cooperation will celebrate its 25th anniversary. This provides an excellent opportunity to take stock of previous achievements while looking at the opportunities and challenges that lie ahead. The Swedish Chairmanship will seek to create a joint vision and define future strategic priorities for Barents cooperation.
In 2018 Sweden will also take over the Presidency of the Council of the Baltic Sea States and the Nordic Council of Ministers, and will coordinate informal Nordic and Nordic-Baltic foreign and security policy cooperation. Our ambition is to find points of contact between these forums and all countries of the Barents and Baltic Sea regions to strengthen overall regional cooperation.
I grew up in the Barents region, in a town in Västerbotten in Northern Sweden. Perhaps this experience makes Barents cooperation a little dearer to me. I look forward to welcoming you to Sweden during our Chairmanship, and to productive cooperation.
Margot Wallström, Minister for Foreign Affairs
Barents cooperation was launched on 11 January 1993 in Kirkenes, Norway, at a conference of foreign ministers who signed a declaration establishing the intergovernmental Barents Euro-Arctic Council (BEAC). At the same time the county governors, together with representatives of the indigenous peoples, signed a protocol that established the Barents Regional Council (BRC).The objective of Barents cooperation is to strengthen peace, stability and sustainable development by improving opportunities for cooperation across the region’s borders. On the 19th of October Sweden will start the chairmanship in BAEC for a period of 2 years.