Group of Indigenous Peoples in the Barents Region halts all activities

Lars-Anders Baer (to the right) joined the “family photo” after the Barents Summit

The Working Group of Indigenous Peoples in the Barents Region halts all activities due to lack of funding. The decision was taken one day after the Prime Ministers praised the Indigenous Peoples work at the Barents Summit.

Dmitri Medvedev, Jens Stoltenberg, Jyrki Katainen and Sigmundur David Gunnlaugsson, the Prime Ministers of Russia, Norway, Finland and Iceland, all underlined the importance of Indigenous Peoples participation in the Barents Cooperation in their official speeches at the Barents Summit on Tuesday. So did also Sweden’s Foreign Minister Carl Bildt, Denmark’s Foreign Minister Villy Søvndal and the European Commission’s Vice President Siim Kallas.

Lars-Anders Baer, chair of the Working Groups of Indigenous Peoples (WGIP) was among the ministers at the podium.

“It’s a long way from the fine words of the Prime Ministers at the 20th anniversary of the Barents Cooperation, to the real world for us Indigenous Peoples,” says Lars-Anders Baer today after the ministers have taken off from Kirkenes with their private jets.

The Working Group has since 1995 had an advisory role for both the Barents Council and the Barents Regional Council.

Members of the WGIP represent the Sámi in Norway, Russia, Finland and Sweden as well as the Nenets and Vepsian peoples in Russia.

It is the lack of economic support that now forces WGIP to suspend its activities. Russia does not grant any funding, and funding from Sweden and Finland are sporadic. Norway is the only providing economic support on a regular basis.

“Russia is with its zero-funding hindering its own Indigenous Peoples participation. One can say that Russia’s contribution to WGIP today is only fine words. Also Russia’s new law on NGOs that need to register as “foreign agents” create problems for the Indigenous Peoples cooperation, “says Baer.

During the Barents Summit, Lars-Anders Baer, was sitting on the stage discussing the further of the Barents Cooperation together with the Ministers. Afterwards he told BarentsObserver “We are on stage, but we’re the cheap ones.

“It’s not a question of big money,” he says, adding that annual funding of even NOK 400,000 (€52,000) would be sufficient for indigenous people to have adequate involvement in the Council’s activities and decisions. It’s peanuts in the governmental structure.”

On Wednesday, the Working Group made the decision to suspend activities. Lars-Anders Baer says that also Finland and Sweden mainly have contributed with nice words at conferances and festivities. (Barents Observer)

Medvedev proposes Barents visa-free travel

Speaking at today’s Barents Summit in Kirkenes, Norway, Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev highlighted the importance of infrastructure development, both on land an offshore.

A financial instrument for infrastructure development must be developed and this should be an issue of discussion also at the upcoming Barents Euro-Arctic Council meeting in Finland, Medvedev said.

Medvedev underlined that cross-border traveling must be facilitated and proposed to establish a regional Barents visa-free zone.

The Russian premier said that the Barents Euro Arctic Cooperation has over its 20 years of existence been an effective instrument for regional cooperation and a good way for bridging the involved regions. He also underlined that “perspectives are good” for the future of the cooperation. (Barents Observer)

Russia to commit $8 bln to Siberian rail upgrades

Russia on Tuesday pledged more than $8 billion to upgrade its Far Eastern rail network, backing the development of links it said were crucial to the country’s economic future.

With growth in Asian markets such as China far outpacing that of their debt-stricken European counterparts, Russia wants to improve infrastructure in Siberia to support exports to countries where demand is greatest.

Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev said the state railway monopoly would get at least 260 billion roubles ($8.35 billion) to develop its Baikal-Amur Mainline (BAM) and Trans-Siberian routes by 2017 and suggested the money could come from national pension and welfare funds.

“Without substantial investment in the Far East we will not achieve any of our key goals – in this case there’s no magic spell,” Medvedev told a conference on development in the country’s Far East.


Il premier russo Dmitry Medvedev si è impegnato a investire entro il 2017 altri 260 miliardi di rubli (pari a circa 6,5 miliardi di euro) per modernizzare la leggendaria Transiberiana e la linea Baikal-Amur (Bam), che collegano la Siberia alla regione Pacifico-asiatica. Il miglioramento aumenterà la capacità delle due linee di 40 milioni di tonnellate di merci all’anno, che potranno incrementare le merci che arriveranno dai mercati in crescita della Cina e del resto dell’Asia.

“Senza investimenti sostanziali – ha detto Medvedev – in Estremo Oriente, non raggiungeremo i nostri obiettivi chiave: non ci sono incantesimi in questi casi”. (Reuters)