New Barents-Balkan dimension in the making

With support from the Norwegian Financial Mechanism, a new link between Europe’s northernmost and southernmost border regions is established.

In two new projects, the European High North meets Southeast Europe in a joint endeavor to enhance cooperation across the EU’s external border.

The Bulgarian Ministry of Regional Development recently signed a €1 million contract on the development of the Bulgarian Border Dialogue project, an initiative supported by Norway Grants, the financial mechanism for Bulgaria and 14 other EU countries. In the project, the Bulgarian ministry is joining forces with the Norwegian Barents Secretariat in the development of a project on cross-border cooperation.

The project includes the assembly of open social and economic data from the border areas of Bulgaria and the neighboring countries of Serbia, Macedonia and Turkey. The assembled data will be made available to the public with the help of tools of data visualization and form the basis for the development of regional data journalism. The project also includes the strengthening of cooperation between the involved countries’ statistical authorities.

 “The project will help bolster understanding of cross-border cooperation and promote good neighborly relations, foster stability, security and prosperity in the mutual interest of all countries concerned,” a press release from the Bulgarian Ministry of Regional Development reads.

The Bulgarian Border Dialogues build on the ideas of the Barents Border Dialogue project, an initiative launched by the Barents Secretariat in early 2013. The Barents Border Dialogue project includes cross-border data assembly, data visualization, data journalism and statistical cooperation between Norway, Russia, Finland and Sweden.

Leader of the Barents Secretariat, Rune Rafaelsen, says the two parallel projects are opening a new unique link between the Barents Region and the Balkans, two of Europe’s most complex and diverse border regions.

"These projects will help improve the availability of key social and economic data from the regions, and consequently prepare the ground for an enhanced understanding of local and regional developments, as well as inter-regional comparisons”, the Secretariat leader adds.

With support from the Norwegian Financial Mechanism, the Barents Secretariat is also engaged in cross-border cooperation initiatives in the Carpathian region, where it is so-called Donor Programme Partner for the Programme on Cross-Border Cooperation between Slovakia and Ukraine.


Read more about the Barents Secretariat and the Norway Grants


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

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