Finding joint solutions to transboundary challenges in the Northern Dimension

The Northern Dimension (ND) is nowadays one of the most effective forward-looking formats of regional and trans-border cooperation. The results and achievements of the ND, i.e. better environmental situation in the Baltic and Barents seas, new cultural ties and promotion of cultural industries, improvements in public health protection in the ND area and resolved transport problems, are also well known due to active position of the NDI and its Newsflash, which deserve all the support.

We highly appreciate that the four ND partners – the EU, Norway, Iceland and Russia – are equal in their responsibility for the future of the ND area, in their engagement for the development of the cooperation and for the financing of it, and in elaboration of the common approaches to the problems in the region. The ND is unique because it combines the policy decision making mechanism and more or less significant project financing capacity, depending on specific partnerships. Such cooperation might become a good example also for other regions. 

Regularly held ND Ministerial meetings are one of the key mechanisms in shaping the cooperation in the region. The latest ND Ministerial meeting held in 2013 in Brussels, took a decision to promote a more systematic approach to regional cooperation. In our view, this resulted in closer interaction between the existing formats in the interest of a more effective use of financial and human recourses. It was an invitation to a general and comprehensive reflection for all the stakeholders in this large Nordic-Baltic area, and we are pleased to see the positive response of many partners. We still have a long way to go in order to develop the common priorities of the Russian North-West Strategy 2020 and Baltic Sea Strategy of the EU. The benefits of such cooperation are sure to be noticeable since it will reveal the real needs of the people in the region.

Since its early years, the ND has been considered as a graphic example of good and efficient cooperation between Russia and the EU. I am convinced that ND by its means will serve as a tool for further open and trustful dialog, which leads to implementation of new projects for the benefit of the people in the region.

In the interest of keeping our common assets – the seas, rivers and soil – cleaner, we hope that the International Financial Institutions will continue to be engaged in new projects in Russia. Environmental problems are transboundary by definition and have similar nature in every country. Thus, they need common solutions.

We are ready to work together with our partners in order to make the next ministerial meeting in Reykjavik able to produce important guidance for the Northern Dimension cooperation so that the overall ND remains a large and important regional format of cooperation with a relevant role for a stable and coherent development in the Northern Europe. We hope that it will be able to preserve and develop reciprocal confidence in these times and go on along the way of practical cooperation.

In order to end up with a positive tune, I would like to mention a very important role of the NDI itself. It has all the necessary elements – knowledge, international dimension, human diversity, operational capacity – to become a focal point for the analysis of the interests of the ND. NDI is also able to give scientific foundations for the Partnerships for their future activities. As there are two Russian co-coordinators in the NDI (Saint-Petersburg State University of Economics and Northern (Arctic) Federal University in Arkhangelsk) we encourage our partners to come to our country and hold the next NDI meeting or meetings (why not!) in Russia. Our doors are always open.

Igor Kapyrin
Deputy Head of the Department for the European Cooperation, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation