Arctic Yearbook 2014 - Page 470

470     Arctic Yearbook 2014 humanitarian ties being implemented through research, educational, non-commercial and public organizations have always been crucial for international integration of the Republic of Karelia. Among the regions of the European Arctic and subarctic zone, the main partners of Karelia are: the Norwegian county of Tromsø; the Swedish county of Västerbotten; and several Finnish unions of communes that concluded a range of cooperation agreements with the Republic. Bilateral forms of cooperation are well-balanced with multilateral ones like, for example, under the framework of the Barents Euro-Arctic region (BEAR), where the Republic has actively participated since its establishment in 1993. The unique nature of the Barents cooperation is justified by cooperation between central and regional levels. Karelia as well as other regions of BEAR seeks to get a maximum benefit from combining bilateral cooperation with participation in multilateral structures of BEAR adjusting its actions, if necessary and useful, with national governments. The Republic of Karelia is not an Arctic region in its pure form. However, Karelia has specific characteristics which are inherent in most of the Arctic regions: severe climate, vulnerable environment, inaccessibility of the territory and underdeveloped transport infrastructure, low density of population, high operating costs and expenses on infrastructure. But at the same time there are new emerging opportunities due to the Arctic and growth of its role in everyday life of humanity. For instance, a high transport potential of the region: the region can function as a transit corridor to different dimension including the Arctic. At the moment the following projects are at the stage of preparation to implementation: a project to connect the Northern Sea Route to inner waters of Russia through Karelia; a project on development of land transport corridors between Ural and Europe; latitudinal transport-logistic projects and more. Proceeding from this, institutional support of program and project activities under the framework of such structures as BEAR is extremely important for Karelia. A good example of this process is a harmonized combination of the established structures and forms of cooperation with the tools providing their functioning that was achieved within Euroregion Karelia. Euroregion Karelia was established in 2000 as an international platform aimed at improvement of cross-border ties and living standards of population. These ideas are implemented by means of the cross-border cooperation program ENPI ‘Karelia’. For the BEAR it would be useful to have its own source of financing as adjustment of the position of the regions is coming through their participation in the Barents Regional Council and profile working groups. That is why Russia, which will preside over in the Council of the BEAR for the next two years, promotes a necessity of establishment of financing tools for BEAR projects as one of its priorities. Precisely in this way the designed BEAR agenda will be able to get suitable financial support and fulfill plenty of useful and mutually beneficial initiatives with specific content. Cooperation in the North requires also synergy of programs and projects. For example, cooperation under the framework of the BEAR can be supported by the instruments of Northern Dimension, programs of the EU, initiatives of the Nordic Council of Ministers and others. It is impossible to underestimate the experience of Karelia on this issue. For instance, JSC ‘Russian Communal Services’, The government of the Republic of Karelia, Petrozavodsk city administration, the Finnish Ministry of Environment, Nordic Environment Finance Corporation (NEFCO), Nordic Investment Bank and Northern Dimension Environmental Partnership Support Fund have joined their efforts for the implementation of the project on Shevchuk