Minister of Local Government visited the Barents Secretariat

“I’m happy to hear that the money from us is so well spent”, said Jan Tore Sanner, Norway’s Minister of Local Government and Modernisation after his visit to the Norwegian Barents Secretariat in Kirkenes today. 

Jan Tore Sanner visited Kirkenes to take part in the annual Kirkenes Conference and had found time in his busy schedule to get to know the Barents Secretaiat’s work better.

Head of the Norwegian Barents Secretariat Rune Rafaelsen told the minister about the Barents Secretariat’s priorities within the people-to-people cooperation and views on the challenges of foreign policy in the High North.

Rafaelsen also told about the Barents Secretariat’s new projects within the European Border Dialogue, concerning cooperation between Slovakia and Ukraine and in the border areas between Bulgaria and the neighboring countries Serbia, Macedonia and Turkey. “So this could be a new sort of export for Norway?” Sanner asked. “Yes, like if I had said it myself”, the head of the secretariat answered. “If Norway has one foreign policy commodity to export, then it is the Barents cooperation.” “What we do here, is being noticed out there in Europe”.

Frank Bakke-Jensen, member of the Norwegian Parliament from Finnmark County, commented the results of the people-to-people cooperation in the Barents Region: “The understanding of Russia has changed radically during the last 30 years. This is not a result of celebration speeches.” 

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The Norwegian Barents secretariat aims at improving the Norwegian-Russian relations by promoting cross border cooperation.

The Secretariat is also a center of compentence for Norwegian-Russian relations and for regional cross border cooperation.