Will Regional Diplomacy Prevail in the Arctic?

In 2013, people from the northernmost part of Europe will celebrate the 20 years of the signature of the declaration of Kirkenes.  This agreement may be considered a major milestone in the development of trans-border cooperation between the nations and the people living in the Barents Sea region.  The agreement constituted a concrete positive step to ensure the implementation of several initiatives in fields ranging from well-being issues to environment; technology development and mobility.  Cooperation in the Barents Sea regions has proven to be fertile through the years.

Nenets reindeer hurders near Naryan-Mar in the very northern part of the Barents Region are among the indigenous peoples that are members of RAIPON. Photo: Thomas Nilsen. | From the Barents Observer

Several initiatives have been put forward to improve the well-being of aboriginal people in the Barents Region, who are until today considered as major actors playing a role in the political stability of the region. The Russian Association of Indigenous Peoples of the North, Siberia and Far East (RAIPON) has worked constantly to defend the interests and make the voice of  the aboriginal people and inhabitants from Northern Russia hear in order to improve their living conditions in this part of the World. Nowadays, thanks to the cooperation development in the Barents Euro-Arctic Regions, several regional agreements have been signed between Fennoscandian organisations and the RAIPON.

Unfortunately, RAIPON’s members are now facing strong political pressure since the organisation was ordered to close by the Russian authorities. One can hope that the situation will improve in the following hours, days and weeks, and that regional diplomacy will find its way to ensure the continuity of cooperation in the region for the sake and well-being of all stakeholders in the region including the Northern aboriginal communities of Northern Russia.
For people interested to know more about the issues of this area, we would like to refer you first to the website of the RAIPON, the website of the Barents Secretariat (http://www.barents.no/), the official website of the Barents Euro-Arctic Council, and also an excellent paper of the Barents Observer about the current situation faced by the RAIPON: “Moscow Orders Closure of Indigenous Peoples Organization”
The Euroculture Krakow Blog & Team would like to take this opportunity to congratulate and address all our respect to the team of the Barents Observer (and de facto the team of the Barents Secretariat) which for many years has been and still is providing efficient and high-quality information about another ‘Europe’ that deserves to be better known.
L. Ampleman on the behalf of the of Euroculture Team/Krakow

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