Annual Kirkenes Conference

Between February 20-22, Norway's Kirkenes hosts the international conference devoted to the development of cooperation in the Barents Region.

Among the main speakers are Norwegian Foreign Minister Ine Eriksen Soereide, Minister of Local Government and Modernization Monica Maeland, Transport Minister Ketil Solvik-Olsen and his Finnish counterpart Anne Berner, EU Ambassador at Large for the Arctic Marie-Anne Coninsx, Former Foreign Minister of Norway Thorvald Stoltenberg (the father of the current NATO Secretary-General), who is considered the founder of the Barents Region, Deputy Governor of the Murmansk Region Alexei Tyukavin, and other representatives of local governments and businesses.

The conference's main topics include the 25th anniversary of the Barents Region, resources management, logistics in the Arctic as well as the development of relations. The program includes the roundtables: A Tourism Industry with Sustainable Growth; Aquaculture Towards 2050; The Green Shift Meets Future Mineral Requirements; Oil and Gas Activities. The agenda also includes the strategic value of the Barents Region, its infrastructure demands and prospects for transport development.

The Barents/Euro-Arctic Region was established back in January 1993 to expand international and regional cooperation and develop people's diplomacy. The region's area totals 1.9 million square kilometers; its population is 6 million. The region includes Norway's counties of Nordland, Troms, Finnmark, Swedish counties Vaesterbotten and Norrbotten, Finland's Lapland, Northern Ostrobothnia and Kainuu, and Russia's Murmansk and Arkhangelsk regions, the republics of Komi and Karelia, and the Nenets Autonomous Area.